Kathleen Merkley, DNP, APRN joined Health Catalyst in March 2013, as an Engagement Executive. Prior to coming to HC, she worked for Intermountain Healthcare as the corporate clinical IT implementation manager. Kathleen is a registered nurse/nurse practitioner and just received her doctorate in nursing practice from the University of Utah in May 2013.
How can health systems avoid just talking about improvement and instead achieve real progress in clinical quality performance? First, improvement teams need access to a robust data infrastructure that can provide a complete picture of performance. This analytic insight reveals process gaps and opportunity areas where the care team can target improvement efforts.
After selecting an opportunity area, care teams are ready to follow the three-step process to achieve meaningful clinical improvement:
1. The “why”: Identify the outcome goal.
2. The “what”: Select a written, measurable, and time-sensitive process metric to evaluate the process.
3. The “how”: Identify the best interventions that will support the desired change in a process.
The traditional sepsis identification method—based on a combination of physician notes, coding, and billing—is often varied and too subjective, leading to inaccurate data. Because margins are tight and health systems can’t afford to waste any resources, clinical teams need to start with the most effective sepsis identification method. Using physiological data, such as vital signs, to identify sepsis is proving to be highly effective.
With the physiological data approach, providers rely on the body’s response—rather than being steered by biases, anecdotal information, or reimbursement rates—to more accurately identify patients with sepsis. With a more effective approach to sepsis identification, providers can implement interventions sooner, leading to better outcomes.
Improving patient satisfaction scores and the overall patient experience of care is a top priority for health systems. It’s a key quality domain in the CMS Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program (25 percent) and it’s an integral part of the IHI Triple Aim.
But, despite the fact that health systems realize the importance of improving the patient experience of care, they often use patient satisfaction as a driver for outcomes. This article challenges this notion, instead recommending that they use patient satisfaction as a balance measure; one of five key recommendations for improving the patient experience:
1. Use patient satisfaction as a balance measure—not a driver for outcomes.
2. Evaluate entire care teams—not individual providers.
3. Use healthcare analytics to understand and act on data.
4. Leverage innovative technology.
5. Improve employee engagement.
This article also explains why patient experience is so closely tied to quality of care, and why it’s a prime indicator of a healthcare organization’s overall health.