Business challenge

AHMC Healthcare needed to focus on improving the patient experience and the entire clinical operation around sepsis management.


The team used the CareDiscovery solution to uncover opportunities to improve sepsis compliance, which ultimately led to a higher level of care.


Up to 100% improvement

in sepsis compliance measures in some facilities

Helped identify and treat sepsis

more quickly and effectively

Helped to improve quality of service

while reducing costs systemwide

Business challenge story

Combatting sepsis

AHMC is a seven-hospital health system headquartered in Alhambra, California. It is the 11th largest for-profit health system in the US. Jonathan F. Aquino, Corporate Chief Quality and Vice Compliance Officer at AHMC and Interim Chief Executive Officer at AHMC San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, was leading his team in various efforts to improve the performance of the system’s hospitals. But those efforts were largely based on anecdotal evidence and manual, labor-intensive processes for data collection.

“We lived in this very obscure environment of action-driven work; however it wasn’t data-driven,” says Aquino. “We had a number of activities throughout our facilities that were focusing on quality improvement, but we weren’t able to measure, pinpoint and truly evaluate our performance as a system.”

Watson Health has really helped us to bridge our clinical performance and our operational success.

Jonathan F. Aquino, Corporate Chief Quality and Vice Compliance Officer, AHMC Healthcare Inc.

Transformation story

Taking a data-driven approach

AHMC incorporated the CareDiscovery solution from IBM Watson Health™. Once AHMC began taking a data-driven approach to quality improvement, Aquino and his team saw an immediate opportunity to reduce the number of sepsis cases in the system’s patient population.  

“The national average for compliance sepsis quality standards is only about 54 percent; when we first started with our sepsis improvement plan, AHMC was at 10 percent systemwide, and as low as 0 percent at some of our facilities,” Aquino explains. “We quickly started to realize that sepsis was affecting a number of our quality measures, from length of stay to readmissions to complications to mortality. It really represented a huge opportunity for improvement.”

But measuring sepsis compliance and actually improving it are two very different things. “Our chairman always says that sepsis would be easy to solve if all of our patients walked in and had a big sticker on their forehead that read ‘sepsis,’ but it’s not that easy,” Aquino says. Patients who will experience sepsis are hard to distinguish, so the need to get the proper clinical and operational processes in place to quickly identify and treat the condition was key to getting the initiative off the ground. By analyzing comprehensive process-of-care data from across the system’s seven hospitals — and comparing that data to national benchmarks from peer group health systems — Aquino and his team were able to identify areas where their clinical and operational processes were falling short. Armed with this information, the team could then engage with physicians, frontline staff and ancillary support teams to address the specific break points in the system that were leading to sepsis core measures not being met and address them at their root.

Early intervention was key, so Aquino and his team took measures to get AHMC’s frontline staff to identify sepsis as quickly as they would a heart attack or respiratory failure. Leadership worked to develop a screening tool that included a checklist of sepsis symptoms. Staff administered that test in both the emergency and triage departments. In addition, posters were put up at each point of care that visually outlined its staff on the six-hour continuum of care for sepsis, from recognition to treatment. Armed with these tools, AHMC leadership could not only quickly and effectively treat sepsis in patients, but they could look back and identify what types of patients were at higher risk and customize their treatment path in the future.

Results story

Hearing the patient’s voice

AHMC’s improved sepsis compliance was a significant step forward, and the lessons learned have helped the system’s leadership continue to drive toward providing the best, most patient-centric care they can. “With Watson Health, we’ve been able to better manage and understand where opportunities are, where our fallouts have been and where we can refocus our performance and process efforts to improve sepsis core measures compliance,” says Aquino.

After a number of months of hard work and stakeholder alignment, AHMC was able to achieve up to 100 percent compliance with sepsis, which meant that patients were going home sooner; they were revisiting the hospital less and ultimately getting better care.

“At AHMC Healthcare, we believe in patient compassion first. And a lot of that process comes to understanding the voice of the patient,” Aquino says. “We want to make sure we’re including the patient’s process and the patient’s experience of how they interact with our facilities and our hospitals in our understanding of how we’re going to improve that process going forward.”

By using Watson Health to help see where its peers were achieving success, all while evaluating the system’s processes against the backdrop of hard, actionable data, AHMC was able to deliver a quality of service that has seen all seven of its facilities achieve Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores that are above average, all while reducing costs systemwide.

“Watson Health has really helped us to bridge our clinical performance and our operational success. That really leads to positive patient experiences,” Aquino says. “When patients leave our hospitals knowing they left better than when they came in, they aren’t thinking about the clinical processes we’re going through to take care of them. But we know it’s because of the data and the clinical benchmarks and the care delivery process. Watson Health helped us improve that care delivery process. That really makes us happy and, of course, it improves patient experience.”

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About AHMC Healthcare Inc.

AHMC Healthcare is a seven-hospital health system headquartered in Alhambra, California. It is the 11th largest for-profit health system in the US.

About IBM Watson Health

For more than a century, IBM has been creating innovations that matter. And with Watson Health, we are committed to help build smarter health ecosystems. This means working with you to help you achieve simpler processes, better care insights, faster breakthroughs, and improved experiences for people around the world. Our core strengths combined — deep industry expertise in health, data and analytics, actionable insights, and our reputation for trust and security — can enable us to deliver support for our clients. Together with our clients and partners, IBM is putting smart to work. For more information, visit

Solution component

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