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The Foundation of Performance Improvement

Published in: Modern Healthcare

Baptist Memorial Health Care provides care throughout Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Technology and peer networking equip Dr. Henry Sullivant – who joined Baptist as chief medical officer for clinical integration in 2014 after more than 30 years in private practice – with the tools and resources to take Baptist’s quality to the next level.

How has performance improvement evolved in healthcare?

HS: Care delivery relies on evidence-based practices today more than ever. While every person’s needs are individualized, we create standards to follow so we can better measure and understand outcomes. You have to say, for example, “this is how we put an IV in,” because a predictable method allows us to build evidence-based behaviors, as well as the key indicators and tools that support them. Without a standard, it’s impossible to measure variation and, most importantly, it’s impossible to improve.

What is your top tool for benchmarking?

HS: We rely on clinical analytics from Premier Inc. technology, such as QualityAdvisor®. QualityAdvisor allows us to easily measure outcomes, benchmark and drill into the data to help us improve costs and transform care. Sometimes we’ll look at the data with a multidisciplinary team – we’ll have a clinical integration specialist at the keyboard, projecting QualityAdvisor onto the screen for the room to see, and we’ll dig in as a team to pinpoint opportunities at the speed of a conversation.

As we’re talking about a specific variation or gap, someone might ask, “Well, which patients are those?” And since we have all of our data and benchmarks at our fingertips in QualityAdvisor, we can look up the patients. Someone will ask, “which procedures are those?” We can start at a high level and peel back the layers all the way to a payer, physician and patient level to find the greatest opportunity across quality or cost metrics.

How do you compare your standards and outcomes to your peers?

HS: I have a deep-seated feeling within my core that how one takes care of a human is not proprietary. We should share that information. If I figured out something pivotal and didn’t share it, I think someone would ask me, “Why didn’t you share that management of the person with an acute myocardial infarction? You guys solved that; why didn’t you share that with everyone else?”

Care transformation has shifted in the last decade or so to emphasize collaboration and dissemination, and one of the things I’m grateful for is Premier’s QUEST® quality improvement collaborative. QUEST brings together hospitals from across the nation and provides us the ability to benchmark against the best.

Through QUEST and Premier technology, we can call up or instant message our colleagues and say, “How did you get there? What are you doing to solve these issues?” Everyone in this collaborative is bonded by a mission to improve care nationwide, and that shared mission encourages open and forthcoming conversations.

How does Premier help you fulfill Baptist's mission?

HS: Our mission propels us to provide quality healthcare, and we therefore strive to be as efficient and cost-effective as we can, all through the lens of empathy for the patient. We don’t want to send a patient home with an extraneous bill for unnecessary care or testing, or find out we had unnecessary resource utilization or consumption, if it could have been avoided.

Premier’s technology helps us see if we are overutilizing a resource or if there’s a more cost-efficient way to achieve better outcomes. After identifying an opportunity, Premier experts and other Premier members then swoop in and help us create new care models to improve. It enables us to deliver the care that the patients need at the right cost and the right time. Our peers are getting better, and we need to have the tools to effectively understand how we compare, find opportunities to improve and accelerate best practice sharing. If we’re staying still, we’re falling behind.

Learn more about Premier's quality improvement solutions.

Story originally featured in Modern Healthcare.

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