Predictive EHR Data Helps Oregon Hospital Proactively Manage Flu Surge


It’s January 2018. One of worst flu seasons, in nearly a decade, has descended on the United States. Oregon has spent six straight weeks dealing with widespread flu activity. Emergency room visits for “influenza-like illness” are higher than they’ve been in years. There is urgency to act. 

Against this backdrop Meghan O’Connell, Regional Emergency Manager at Providence Health & Services who serves as Disaster Manager for the Oregon Region, is tasked with providing executives across Oregon Providence Hospitals with an overview on flu surge. Meghan’s goal was simple: Rapidly collect flu-related ED trend data so leadership could: 

  • Assess the problem 
  • Use predictive trend analytics to anticipate future impact 
  • Adjust staffing to address the impact 


Most tasked with this project would submit an urgent EHR data analysis request to IT--and often wait weeks for the results. But epidemiology outbreaks such as influenza don’t wait. Fortunately for Meghan, the ED departments across Providence use the Connect-ED product. This means Meghan has access to on-demand analytics used for proactive flu surge management. For the executive overview she instantly pulls a report that includes: 

  • Total volumes in the ED for Dec 31 – Jan 4 
  • Filtered by flu diagnosis 
  • Filtered by admissions 

Access to this data is a game changer for Meghan and the leadership team. 


  • Fast: Instant, as needed reports 
  • Comprehensive: Real-time and historic metrics 
  • Easy: No programming required 
  • Efficient: Zero IT resources 
  • Accurate: Trusted results 


  • Average in-house report cost: $6,000 
  • Average wait time for an in-house report: 3 weeks


Dec. 31 – Jan 4 had some of the highest % of flu diagnosis over the last three months for Oregon EDs.



After a quick analysis, the path forward is clear: 

  • The summary overview was used in daily Surge Emergency Response calls with Oregon regional leadership as they met to address the flu surge impacts. 
  • Instant access to analytics and as-it-happens data, provided the knowledge hospital leadership needed to make informed, responsive, operational decisions. 
  • Meghan’s analysis helped hospital leadership avert potential flu-related throughput issues because they could actively manage and adjust resources and staffing to accommodate ED increases during the record breaking flu season. 

With this experience under her belt we’re betting Meghan is going to find even more inventive ways to help predict and actively manage ED throughput. 

Molly Maron