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6 Steps for Implementing Successful Performance Improvement Initiatives in Healthcare

A systematic approach to performance improvement initiative includes three components:  analytics, best practice, and adoption. Taking six steps will help an organization to effectively cover all three  components of success. Step 1: Integrate performance improvement into your strategic objectives. Step 2: Use analytics to unlock data and identity areas of opportunity. Step 3: Prioritize programs using a combination of analytics and an adoption system. Step 4: Define the performance improvement program’s permanent teams. Step 5: Use a best practice system to define program outcomes and define interventions. Step 6: Estimate the ROI.

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Five Deming Principles That Help Healthcare Process Improvement

Dr. John Haughom explains 5 key Deming processes that can be applied to healthcare process improvement. These include 1) quality improvement as the science of process management, 2) if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it, 3) managed care means managing the processes of care (not managing physicians and nurses), 4) the importance of the right data in the right format at the right time in the right hands, and 5) engaging the “smart cogs” of healthcare.

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The 4 Clinical Teams Needed to Drive Sustainable Improvement

As the healthcare industry shifts from a fee-for-service to pay-for-performance and accountable care organizations are under greater pressure to make improvements to their clinical, financial and operational outcomes. As clinical quality improvement efforts grow systematically improving and sustaining care across the organization becomes more challenging. In order to ensure sustainable, long-term change a cross-functional, team-based approach that accelerates the implementation of change throughout the organization is necessary. This is the adoption system. Without an adoption system, improvement initiatives become a series of one off projects that may have a temporary positive impact, but soon return to the baseline level.

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6 Proven Strategies for Engaging Physicians—and 4 Ways to Fail

For healthcare organizations to be successful with their quality and cost improvement initiatives, physicians must be engaged with the proposed changes. But many physicians are not engaged because their morale is suffering. While some strategies to encourage buy-in for improvement initiatives don’t work, there are six strategies that have proven to be effective: (1) discover a common purpose, (2) adopt an engaging style, (3) turn physicians into partners, not customers, (4) segment the engagement plan, (5) use “engaging” improvement methods, and (6) provide them with backup—all the way to the board. Once the organization has their trust, physicians will gain enthusiasm to move forward with improvement efforts that will benefit everyone.

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Continuity of Care Documents: Today’s Top Solution for Healthcare Interoperability Demands

While healthcare waits for the expanded data interoperability that FHIR promises, the industry needs an immediate solution for accessing and using disparate data from across the continuum of care. With FHIR potentially several years away, continuity of care documents (CCDs) are the best option for acquiring the ambulatory clinical care data health systems need to close quality gaps today. Because organizations that rely only on claims data to drive quality improvement risk missing out on more that 80 percent of patient information, CCDs are the current must-have answer to interoperability for successful quality improvement.

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The Top Six Examples of Quality Improvement in Healthcare

In order to thrive in an increasingly challenging healthcare environment, undertaking quality improvement projects is more important than ever for healthcare systems’ continued survival. However, health systems need to tackle the right projects at the right time to maximize the impact to their organization. This article shares both clinical and financial and operational examples of quality improvement in healthcare that may help others as they tackle improvement projects. Some examples shared include:

  • Pharmacist-led Medication Therapy Management (MTM) reduces total cost of care.
  • Optimizing sepsis care improves early recognition and outcomes.
  • Boosting readiness and change competencies successfully reduces clinical variation.
  • New generation Activity-Based Costing (ABC) accelerates timeliness of decision support.
  • Systematic, data-driven approach lowers length of stay (LOS) and improves care coordination.
  • Clinical and financial partnership reduces denials and write-offs by more than $3 million.

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Is a Medical Writer the Missing Accelerant to Your Outcome Improvement Efforts?

Quality improvement efforts are more important than ever. However, even improvement efforts that have the right people, processes, and technology can struggle to make progress.  A medical writer with healthcare knowledge and strong information design skills may be the missing ingredient that can help speed time to adoption and value. This article discusses the functions a medical writer can fulfill, and why they matter. You will also learn:

  • The four skills that a medical writer with strong information design skills brings to an improvement team.
  • Examples of output of medical writers in a healthcare setting.
  • The skills a medical writer needs.
Additionally, you will learn how to find this unique skill set and where you might find this key person.

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ACOs: Four Ways Technology Contributes to Success

With an increasing emphasis on value-based care, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are here to stay. In an ACO, healthcare providers and hospitals come together with the shared goals of reducing costs and increasing patient satisfaction by providing high-quality coordinated healthcare to Medicare patients. However, many ACOs lack direction and experience difficulty understanding how to use data to improve care. Implementing a robust data analytics system to automate the process of data gathering and analysis as well as aligning data with ACO quality reporting measures. The article walks through four keys to effectively implementing technology for ACO success:

  1. Build a data repository with an analytics platform.
  2. Bring data to the point of care.
  3. Analyze claims data, identify outliers, including successes and failures.
  4. Combine clinical claims, and quality data to identify opportunities for improvement.

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Emergency Department Quality Improvement: Transforming the Delivery of Care

Overcrowding in the emergency department has been associated with increased inpatient mortality, increased length of stay, and increased costs for admitted patients. ED wait times and patients who leave without seeing a qualified medical provider are indicators of overcrowding. A data-driven system approach is needed to address these problems and redesign the delivery of emergency care. This article explores common problems in emergency care and insights into embarking on a successful quality improvement journey to transform care delivery in the ED, including an exploration of the following topics:

  • A four-step approach to redesigning the delivery of emergency care.
  • Understanding ED performance.
  • Revising High-Impact Workflows.
  • Revising Staffing Patterns.
  • Setting Leadership Expectations.
  • Improving the Patient Experience.

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Healthcare Project Management Techniques: A Pragmatic Approach to Outcomes Improvement

Project management skills and good project managers are increasingly important to the healthcare industry because they can help control costs, manage risk, and speed improvement project outcomes. By applying project management techniques, from waterfall to agile methodologies, organizations can plan, organize, and execute a set of tasks efficiently in order to maximize resources and achieve specific goals. This article explores project management techniques and offers considerations for healthcare leaders when adapting these techniques for clinical, financial, and operational process improvement. The author also shares a pragmatic application and practical tips for implementing these project management techniques in a healthcare environment.

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Lean Healthcare: 6 Methodologies for Improvement from Dr. Brent James

The survival of healthcare organizations depends on applying lean principles. Organizations that adopt lean principles can reduce waste while improving the quality of care. By applying stringent clinical data measurement approaches to routine care delivery, healthcare systems identify best practice protocols and incorporate those into the clinical workflow. Data from these best practices are applied through continuous-learning loop that enables teams across the organization to update and improve protocols–ultimately reducing waste, lowering costs, and improving access to care. This executive report based on a presentation by Dr. Brent James at a regional medical center, covers the following:

  1. How lean healthcare principles can help improve the quality of care.
  2. The steps healthcare organizations need to take to create a continuous-learning loop.
  3. How a lean approach creates financial leverage by eliminating waste and improving net operating margins and ROI.

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Four Essential Ways Control Charts Guide Healthcare Improvement

Control charts are a critical asset to any health system seeking effective, sustainable improvement. With a simple three-line format, control charts show process change over time, including the average of the data, upper control limit, and lower control limit. This insight helps improvement teams monitor projects, understand opportunities and the impact of initiatives, and sustain improved processes. Also known as Shewhart charts or statistical process control charts, control charts drive effective improvement by addressing three fundamental questions:

  1. What is the goal of the improvement project?
  2. How will the organization know that a change is an improvement?
  3. What change can the organization make that will result in improvement?

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Five Deming Principles That Help Healthcare Process Improvement

Dr. John Haughom explains 5 key Deming processes that can be applied to healthcare process improvement. These include 1) quality improvement as the science of process management, 2) if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it, 3) managed care means managing the processes of care (not managing physicians and nurses), 4) the importance of the right data in the right format at the right time in the right hands, and 5) engaging the “smart cogs” of healthcare.

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Transforming Healthcare Analytics: Five Critical Steps

By committing to transforming healthcare analytics, organizations can eventually save hundreds of millions of dollars (depending on their size) and achieve comprehensive outcomes improvement. The transformation helps organizations achieve the analytics efficiency needed to navigate the complex healthcare landscape of technology, regulatory, and financial challenges and the challenges of value-based care. To achieve analytics transformation and ROI within a short timeframe, organizations can follow five phases to become data driven:

  1. Establish a data-driven culture.
  2. Acquire and access data.
  3. Establish data stewardship.
  4. Establish data quality.
  5. Spread data use.

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A Guide to Applying Quality Improvement to Healthcare: Five Principles

Healthcare is an art and a science. What many in the industry don’t understand is that systems and processes can coexist with personalized care. Quality improvement methods can be as effective in healthcare as they have been in other industries (e.g., agriculture, manufacturing, etc.). Quality improvement in healthcare is not just achievable, it’s an absolute necessity given the amount of wasteful spending in the U.S. on healthcare. Organizations can reduce this wasteful spending while improving their processes by applying these five guiding principles:

  1. Facilitate adoption through hands-on improvement projects.
  2. Define quality and get agreement.
  3. Measure for improvement, not accountability.
  4. Use a quality improvement framework and PDSA cycles.
  5. Learn from variation in data.
By using these principles and starting small, organizations can quicken the pace of quality improvement in healthcare.

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Why Health Systems Must Use Data Science to Improve Outcomes

In today’s improvement-driven healthcare environment, organizations must ensure that improvement measures help them reach desired outcomes and focus on the opportunities with optimal ROI. With data science-based analysis, health systems leverage machine learning to determine if improvement measures align with specific outcomes and avoid the risk and cost of carrying out interventions that are unlikely to support their goals. There are four essential reasons that insights from data science help health systems implement and sustain improvement:

  1. Measures aligned with desired outcomes drive improvement.
  2. Improvement teams focus on processes they can impact.
  3. Outcome-specific interventions might impact other outcomes.
  4. Identifies opportunities with optimal ROI.

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The Top 8 Skills Every Healthcare Process Improvement Leader Must Have

Healthcare process improvement leaders not only have to be a jack-of-all-trades, but they need to be a master, as well. This is one of the most important leadership roles in the healthcare system with responsibilities that can ultimately end up saving lives, improving the patient experience, improving caregiver job satisfaction, and reducing costs. Although there are many others, these eight skills are the most critical for the efficient, and ultimately, successful process improvement leader:

  1. Communication
  2. Trust Building
  3. Coaching
  4. Understanding Process Management
  5. Understanding Care Management Personnel
  6. Constructive Accountability and Constructive Conflict
  7. Resiliency and Persistency
  8. Seeing the Big Picture
Along with the right training, education, and sponsorship, it’s easy to see why this role blends many elements of art and science.

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Introducing Touchstone: The Next-Generation Healthcare Benchmarking and Opportunity Prioritization Tool

To do healthcare benchmarking effectively and efficiently, healthcare organizations need to know where they’re underperforming, where they’re performing well, and how to focus and prioritize their improvement efforts. They also need a new approach to benchmarking that isn’t limited to the inpatient setting. The Health Catalyst® Touchstone™ product is the next-generation healthcare benchmarking and prioritization tool that delivers what antiquated benchmarking technologies cannot:

  • Risk-adjusted benchmarking across the full continuum of care.
  • Artificial intelligence-powered recommendations.
  • Ranked lists of improvement opportunities.
  • Detailed analytics and an intuitive user interface that enable the easy exploration of factors driving performance issues.
  • Democratized benchmarking that’s available to as many people as the organization wants.
Touchstone was designed with many users and use cases in mind, from population health analysts looking to improve ACO performance to C-suite leaders who need a data-driven approach to prioritizing improvement opportunities.

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6 Proven Strategies for Engaging Physicians—and 4 Ways to Fail

For healthcare organizations to be successful with their quality and cost improvement initiatives, physicians must be engaged with the proposed changes. But many physicians are not engaged because their morale is suffering. While some strategies to encourage buy-in for improvement initiatives don’t work, there are six strategies that have proven to be effective: (1) discover a common purpose, (2) adopt an engaging style, (3) turn physicians into partners, not customers, (4) segment the engagement plan, (5) use “engaging” improvement methods, and (6) provide them with backup—all the way to the board. Once the organization has their trust, physicians will gain enthusiasm to move forward with improvement efforts that will benefit everyone.

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Outcomes Improvement Governance: A Handbook for Success and Achieving More with Less

For healthcare organizations looking to achieve outcomes improvement goals, effective governance is the most essential must-have. This leadership culture ensures success by enabling health systems to invest in outcomes improvement and allocate resources appropriately toward these goals. This executive report is an outcomes improvement governance handbook centered on four guiding principles (and associated helpful steps) health systems can follow to achieve effective governance and start achieving more with less:

  1. Stakeholder engagement
  2. Shared understanding
  3. Alignment
  4. Focus
With these four principles, organizations can build a foundation of engagement and focus around the work, where they maximize strengths, and discover and address weaknesses. They establish an improvement methodology, define their goals, and sustain and standardize improvement work.

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