Hospital Quality Alliance
On April 1, 2005 the Hospital Quality Alliance began releasing information on hospital performance related to healthcare processes to the public through a new consumer website, Hospital Compare. The purpose of reporting this information is to improve the quality of care all hospitals provide and to give consumers additional information to consider when accessing healthcare services. Hospital Compare will focus on data that hospitals nationwide have voluntarily submitted in a consistent manner. Initially, these measures relate to three common conditions affecting patients: heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. In the future, the site will expand to cover more conditions.
What do initial findings indicate about OLOL?
Our Lady of the Lake consistently ranks in the top fifty percent of all hospitals measured and in many cases matches the performance of the top ten percent of hospitals across the country. We are pleased with this initial data and believe this is a good starting point for measuring our continued improvement. In fact, OLOL was recognized as a Top 100 Hospital in the Nation in 2004 for Performance Improvement by Solucient®, a leading provider of strategic business and clinical information for the healthcare industry. This national initiative gives us another resource by which to measure our ongoing efforts in quality improvement.
What steps is OLOL taking to ensure quality?
Quality initiatives are related to outcomes, processes and patient safety. Our Lady of the Lake has made a significant investment in technology that supports our clinical practice and processes as well as patient safety. Using state-of-the-art software technology, caregivers and multidisciplinary teams use the clinical information system to reinforce practice throughout the organization. For example, when patients identified as smokers are admitted, there are triggers in the system to alert physicians and staff treating the patient to provide information on smoking cessation. OLOL has also implemented bar-coding, a scanning system that helps nurses ensure the right medication is given to the right patient. While technology cannot replace trained professionals, technology-based checks do provide a reliable reminder system to enhance care to patients improving the communication between physicians, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and any person providing care.
Physicians are involved in every aspect of the hospital’s quality initiatives. Physician-led teams are in place to address each project or process, make recommendations for improvement and guide implementation.
How should the consumer use this new information?
These comparative quality measures are another resource consumers can use when selecting a healthcare facility. But caution should be taken that this data is not the only criteria for selection. Other considerations, such as matching the services and specialties of a hospital to needs, selecting a facility that accepts one’s insurance and determining where one’s physician has admitting privileges are also important. Our Lady of the Lake believes that this new comparative information allows consumers to be better educated about their healthcare options and is a springboard for dialogue between patients and their physicians. More informed patients are better able to actively participate in their care.