2021 marks the I-PASS Institute’s 5th anniversary. We began with one mission—to close gaps in communication that occur during handoffs. While much has changed to improve patient safety since we started, our mission has remained the same. In five years, we’ve created a supportive and connected community, launched new solutions, and gained extensive knowledge in patient safety. To celebrate this milestone, we spoke with Chief Executive Officer, Bill Floyd, to discuss I-PASS’s journey as an organization, advancements in the industry, and what the next five years, and beyond, may bring for the I-PASS Institute.
To get started, can you tell us why the I-PASS Institute was founded?
I-PASS Institute began in 2016 as a group of clinicians, along with Tim O’Shea, VP, Strategy, and I spent six months looking at the I-PASS methodology and determining how we could scale the methodology and research showing its success in reducing patient harms. Once we identified how to make I-PASS available at scale, through technology and support, we brought in like-minded investors who had a passion for patient safety and improving patient outcomes. During the following five years, we brought a manual process into a very scalable, repeatable methodology that now allows everyone from large institutions down to smaller departments to adopt the approach quickly and easily.
As we celebrate I-PASS’s 5th anniversary, what are some of the thoughts and emotions that come to mind?
It’s such a wonderful time, and it’s amazing to see our progress. The original vision was to take a manual process and move it to a more scalable process. And we were able to do that with three digital platforms. One platform aids in learning and training, one platform measures the adherence and error reductions of patient handoffs performed, and one platform integrates the written tool with EHR systems. So, over the past five years, we have built these out and are now using that to scale full hospital institutions with a proven I-PASS methodology.
How do you feel you’ve progressed as a company over these past five years?
I would say we have progressed exceptionally well. As with most companies, COVID-19 has presented interesting challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, because frontline providers and healthcare professionals have been focused on responding to the pandemic, it has been difficult at times to recenter their attention on patient safety. And yet, when clinicians are busy and stressed, the need for and benefit of a strong handoff communication system is powerful. In fact, we’ve had several institutions recently say they specifically want to implement I-PASS now because they believe it will reduce the clinician burnout and strain that currently exists within their organization.
What are some of the biggest lessons learned throughout the healthcare and patient safety space in the past five years?
Patient safety is an integral part of every institution, but every institution is on a different journey to a zero preventable event pathway. And for the I-PASS Institute, being able to identify those institutions at the right point has taken us time to understand. Once hospital leadership and institutions express a desire to adopt, install the methodology, and make it part of their culture, they’re able to see a significant improvement in both quality and safety which creates a sense of accomplishment and pride for us.
Do you find that hospitals are more willing or more open to the idea of I-PASS today than they were when you first started?
Early on, we spent a lot of time sharing the results from the I-PASS study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That early stage was really trying to convince people that the bundle the I-PASS study team had developed was effective, and so the first few years we spent a lot of time doing that. Now, a large percentage of customers understand the data, and they also understand that I-PASS’s methodology is a proven, evidence-based mnemonic for doing handoffs and transitions of care. So, we are spending less proving ourselves and more time discussing what implementation looks like.
COVID-19 is certainly one of the most recent events that have affected the healthcare industry. Would you say there are some other events or advancements that have changed the industry over the past five years?
There's been a lot of renewed effort to continue to improve hospitals and patient safety. What’s exciting is when a hospital aligns their organization to do an implementation of I-PASS, and our technology becomes part of their culture. We’ve seen the I-PASS Bundle have huge benefits in the culture of safety, especially reported by the frontline providers.
We’ve seen benefits of up to 70% reduction in overtime in a nursing study and seen the error reduction rate in both major and minor harms reduced by 75% for multiple years . But I think the part that's probably the most exciting takeaway is that you hear physicians and nurses say they feel they've done their best at the end of a shift when using I-PASS. When they transition a patient using I-PASS, they are providing the right information and exceptional care for their patients. Healthcare providers are working incredibly hard, so it's nice when they feel a sense of accomplishment. We feel a sense of pride that we can help them get there.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself five years ago?
Don’t use a driver off the first tee … just kidding! I think it would be to continue being patient. One of the key cultural aspects and DNA of our company is that of grit. Things in healthcare take a long time. Development of software takes a long time. Hospitals move relatively slowly and take time to progress through each stage of decision making and implementation. But when we’ve been patient and continued to persevere, the results are extremely satisfying. We know we have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and are making a difference for hospitals and frontline workers and that is really fulfilling as an organization.
What advancements or changes do you anticipate seeing in the industry moving forward?
I-PASS as a methodology will inevitably become the standard of care. Other datasets are emerging that continue to show the benefits of high reliability, closed-loop communication, which will continue to display the importance of standardized handoffs.
The first change we're going to see is in technology itself, where it will continue to become easier to adopt I-PASS. In time, we would like to identify areas that are higher risk during certain procedures, locations, or time of day. So, doing these large datasets to produce predictive analytics will be big from the technology standpoint. The second advancement is going to be specific to where I-PASS is adopted. I-PASS began in pediatric residency. Over the years, it has continued to expand. Now, I-PASS is used in nursing, throughout different departments in the hospital and in transition of care with family members. I-PASS is also being studied and adopted in inter-hospital transitions.
What is your vision for the future for I-PASS?
I-PASS will be the primary company to help hospitals and other areas in healthcare transition patients. We will help them adopt, adapt, and sustain this proven methodology. We’ll continue to work to make the handoff process smoother and easier until it becomes a part of the culture of the institution. I-PASS’s future is certainly bright.
Bill Floyd is the Founder and CEO of the I-PASS Patient Safety Group. With a career spanning over thirty years in healthcare, Bill’s extensive career ranges medical devices, patient monitoring and enterprise software solutions. With a passion for improving the quality and standards of care patients receive, Bill brings entrepreneurial expertise to I-PASS Institute after working at several successful healthcare start-up organizations.