The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.

 

The 2014 100 Top Hospitals Winners: Are They the Best Partners for Local Employers?

By Truven Staff
Jean Chenoweth imageThe newly announced 2014 100 Top Hospitals® winners once again exemplify balanced excellence in performance. These are hospitals that outperform peers across the whole organization, not in just one performance area. Why does that matter? 

It matters because the healthcare industry is in turmoil. The Accountable Care Act (ACA) is  a disruptive event that requires hospital leaders to maintain high performance while guiding the successful transformation of the organization, and this is critical to the organization’s health. The leaders of the 2014 100 Top Hospitals have demonstrated these skills and are increasingly raising the value provided to the community, while others are falling behind. The 100 Top Hospitals management teams are able to serve their communities with reliable, high performance in the areas we measure: good inpatient outcomes, safety and adherence to evidence-based medicine, excellent post-discharge outcomes, effective clinical and operational efficiency, stable financial performance as a major community employer, and high patient perception of care. These hospitals have leadership teams who are also more consistent than their peers in demanding a balance across these measures. It matters because these are the hospitals that are well managed and most able to make successful change during tumultuous times.
The ACA is a disruptive event for employers and insurers as well.
Employers are increasingly aware that quality is not a commodity, and there needs to be a balance between cost and quality. They are learning that demands for only lower costs can be counterproductive, especially given ACA requirements for increased value and community health. Routine contracting with the lowest-cost health plans, without regard to quality, will result in higher costs and employee dissatisfaction in the long run. ACA transparency requirements for healthcare exchanges are designed explicitly to expose very low-quality health plan networks that don’t improve quality and community health. These far-reaching effects of the ACA are leading employers and providers to warm to the idea of mutually agreed-upon goals to lower costs and improve quality across the community.

Will ACA requirements and incentives result in employers and providers working together in the future?
While it makes sense that employers and providers should collaborate, it’s difficult to know whether the idea is ephemeral or the beginning of a new way of operating for the good of the community. Both talk about higher value, but it's unclear if either will walk the walk. If the concept does begin to gain momentum, well-managed hospitals with proven leadership, like the 100 Top Hospitals, will be the best partners that employers can have. Strong, effective management is NOT a commodity. But strong hospitals with effective management are the most likely to be the best partners of employers to drive increasingly high value and improved community health.

See the full list of winners.
Download the study overview and research findings.
Learn more at www.100tophospitals.com.

Jean Chenoweth
Senior Vice President, Performance Improvement and 100 Top Hospitals

How Hospital Pharmacy Can Integrate Technology to Impact HCAHPS Scores

By Truven Staff
Tina Moen imageQuality care and finance. The balance of these essential elements holds the key to the future of how we provide healthcare. Multidisciplinary care is more important than ever in caring for patients, and looking at the whole picture is the best way to care for the whole patient. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) agrees. How your hospital scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey is becoming increasingly important, especially since under the CMS Value Based Purchasing (VBP) program,
reimbursements are partially based on those scores.

How can pharmacists use their expertise to impact patient satisfaction and boost HCAHPS scores?

HCAHPS wants to know, if during the hospital stay, did the patient receive new medication? If so, how often did staff tell the patient what the medicine was for, and did staff describe possible side effects in simplified terms?

Pharmacists can directly impact these questions by combining clinical expertise with technology. We can make every reasonable effort to:
  • Explain to our patients why they are taking new medications – when prescribed, at first dose, and at discharge.
  • Use clear wording to help patients understand why they are taking a medication and what they can possibly expect as a result.
  • Give them patient-specific medication handouts and discharge instructions.
  • Make ourselves available to patients and to staff, to answer medication related questions.
And with technology, we can ensure we are educating our patients by scaling our efforts and making our available manpower more efficient. One of our clients, Arkansas Methodist Medical Center, is using Micromedex® Pharmacy Intervention to set alerts to remind their clinical pharmacists which patients are on new medications, develop protocols with simplified terminology for all pharmacists to follow uniformly, and then track their progress. View the video to see how they are making this work for them.

As pharmacists, we can also leverage Micromedex clinical decision support, embedded within the Pharmacy Intervention solution, or accessible via the 2.0 platform, to access the talking points within the Clinical Teaching section. Clinical Teaching highlights the most pertinent medication information and serves to inform clinicians on what patients need to know about medication use, safety, and side effects.

Lastly, we can use Micromedex Patient Education, as a standalone or embedded in the hospital EHR, to provide high-quality, evidence-based, consistent education to our patients. Health education resources are written in simple to understand language, an active voice, and at a 5th to 7th grade reading level. Patient-specific handouts and discharge instructions can be printed, and also made available to your patients via a patient portal and email.

Using Micromedex Solutions, we can compare internal benchmarks, which can be captured and quantified, to customize how pharmacy can improve care for patients. With these trusted solutions, we can make sure that the pharmacist and patient have all of the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions while aligning directly with HCAHPS standards. Well-honed tools help us adapt to the dynamic nature of the practice of pharmacy and no doubt solidify a blueprint for future regulatory and value based reimbursement programs.

Tina Moen, PharmD
Chief Clinical Officer

A Higher Level of Patient Experience

By Truven Staff
Michael R. Udwin imageThe recent Los Angeles Times article “Healthcare Overhaul Leads Hospitals to Focus on Patient Satisfaction” offers a positive glimpse into a future where patient quality and satisfaction need not be two distinct entities. In this paradigm, it’s no longer enough to merely provide a diagnosis, therapy, or procedure. The experience is integrally related to outcome.

Ask anyone who has walked into a Starbucks if atmosphere matters. Yes, the $5.00 cup of coffee is tasty, but the friendly cashier, the barista, the deep leather chairs, and of course the Wi-fi, are all part of the experience. Yes, the coffee itself matters. But so does everything around that cup. The same holds true for the hip procedure. Yes, you expect not to die during the procedure or have a complication. But now more than ever, you hope the staff is friendly, the admission and discharge process is smooth, and your medicine and other ancillary services are provided in a timely and efficient manner.

Recently, I visited a hospital where they had just begun handing out physician business cards with a picture of the doctor on the front. These cards were intended to improve patient familiarity with the multitude of providers involved in each admission. For some doctors, the initial reaction was one of disgust. “This is unprofessional” and “What's next, commercials and phone book advertisements?” were common refrains expressed shortly afterwards. Yet, why should doctors not be proud of the experience they provide?

As doctors embrace this new level of accountability and distinction, the processes that support that level of experience will be extremely important. As patients reflect on the care provided, it will be difficult to separate the doctor from the pain they experienced, and to that end, how quickly it was relieved by a friendly, efficient staff.  As members of a broad hospital community, doctors can play a vital role to ensure that quality is more than just an outcome, but instead a higher level of experience.

Michael R. Udwin, MD, FACOG
National Medical Director

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