August 1, 2012

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, other area hospitals improve care for patients in national program on hospital quality

Ten greater Cleveland hospitals, all members of Better Health Greater Cleveland, have completed their participation in an 18-month national program to improve the quality and safety of patient care. The effort is part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) program, a national initiative to measurably improve health care in local markets. Greater Cleveland is one of 16 communities nationally selected to participate in AF4Q.

The hospitals were among 100 nationwide that participated in a virtual network where they developed, shared and implemented quality improvement tools, strategies and lessons learned. All used common measures to gauge progress along the way. Among participating hospitals nationwide, the 10 area hospitals beat national and state average rates for 30-day heart failure readmissions, outperformed 67 hospitals on ideal measures of heart failure care, and standardized collection of race, ethnicity and preferred language to ensure equitable care for all patients.

The northeast Ohio hospitals that participated in the 18-month program are MetroHealth Medical Center, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and eight Cleveland Clinic hospitals – Euclid, Fairview, Hillcrest, Lakewood, Lutheran, Marymount, Medina and South Pointe.

“Measurement is the foundation of continuous improvement, and adoption of common measures helps us to identify successes – and the strategies behind them – so they can be shared,” said Randall D. Cebul, MD, Director of Better Health Greater Cleveland. “We are delighted these hospitals are measuring their progress on these important initiatives, which are costly for patients, health plans and employers.”

National data show about one in four Medicare patients admitted to the hospital for chronic diseases return to the hospital within 30 days. Hospitals participating in AF4Q launched projects to improve communications with patients and families at the time of discharge, ensure follow-up physician care and address other processes needed to safely transition from the hospital setting.

“We know that even though many hospitals consistently deliver good care, there’s always room for improvement,” said Susan Mende, BSN, MPH, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Aligning Forces for Quality has shown that hospitals in Greater Cleveland and around the country want to do better and are willing to take steps needed to deliver the best care possible to their patients.”

An important achievement among all 10 hospitals in the program is their implementation of standardized collection of information on patients’ race, ethnicity and language preference (R/E/L). The information allows healthcare providers to identify health disparities so they can take action to address them.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, which also participated in the AF4Q program focusing on improving language services for patients, demonstrated 99% improvement in screening for preferred language for health-related communications. St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

The hospital collaboratives were led by experts at The George Washington University. The work continues in northeast Ohio, where Better Health Greater Cleveland is leading a community-wide effort that brings together the multiple health care and community organizations that play a role in post-hospitalization care and recovery.

AF4Q is an unprecedented effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to improve quality of care in communities nationwide and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Better Health Greater Cleveland is a multi-stakeholder collaborative that brings together regional private and public employers, health care providers and insurance companies to create long-term sustainable solutions that improve the quality of patient care, increase efficiency of health care delivery and decrease costs for all.

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