Utilizing Data and Technology to Bolster Quality Care

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Patient care has always been a top priority of healthcare institutes. CEP America provides quality care to more than 6.3 million patients annually. It has pioneered a truly integrated practice philosophy, along with a data strategy that provides interoperability across their partnering 200 practices and more than 100 healthcare facilities throughout the U.S. to drive stellar care for patients.

What quality measures are important for hospitals today and how are healthcare institutions using technology to improve quality system-wide? Chief Medical Officer of CEP America, Dr. Prentice Tom offers critical insights into strategies and success.

Q: As Chief Medical Officer for a large physician organization, what quality measures do you prioritize and why?

I think quality is no longer the correct term. We should be looking at our performance measures. And the reason that I want to make that distinction is it is increasingly difficult to now say what is quality vs. patient flow vs. patient experience. There was a recent study that showed when patient satisfaction was higher and their experiences were better that they had a lower readmission rate to hospitals. If you look at operational flow measures like how long it takes for a patient to be seen in the emergency department or what is the length of stay, those measures dramatically impact quality. When patients are seen more rapidly, that has been shown to improve care. If you provide services in a more efficient manner on the inpatient side then we’re able to reduce length of stay and free up resources for other patients.

So really, the first thing we should look at is performance measures. All of these measures impact quality, whether they were patient experience, operational flow, or what are traditionally called quality measures.

Q: What do you think are the most important quality measures for hospitals to focus on today?

If we now look at quality in this much larger perspective and as performance, I think the most important measure is patient experience. It’s not only a measure of how the patient perceives care, but also a very accurate measure of the care that they receive and whether the health system was meeting that patient’s needs. This makes them much more likely to follow the clinician’s instructions when discharged, which impacts readmission rates signifi cantly. Th ey are also much more likely to follow up with their physician, and in the longer
term, will be more compliant with the care that is given. As we recognize
this, we are moving toward a patient-centric care model vs. one
where a clinician dictates the care and the patient is a passive receiver.
We now have models where multiple parties are participating in the
overall care. We, along with many other large organizations, consider patient experience as the most critical measure of performance.

In addition, hospitals look at performance measures that show significant value in terms of resource utilization over ones that are just particular care measures. For example, readmission rates for hospitals are ultimately about how different clinicians work together to provide a single product with a better patient outcome.

Q: Your physicians care for patients across more than 30 health systems. What are the most successful organizations doing to improve quality system-wide?

The most important thing is that organizations are starting to leverage their IT systems and create data sets that help monitor and direct clinical care in terms of where physicians need to be putting their efforts. We are now able to collect significant amounts of data in a very rapid fashion and use that data to drive clinician behavior. We can see who the clinicians are and the performance standards set by that health system.

CEP America has created a collaborative model where physicians across hospitals work together toward common goals. We have found that this effort is extremely valuable to provide help to our hospitals and our physicians, whether it’s focused on improving the patient experience or operations. Th is model creates an open environment where data, best practices, and lessons learned are shared to the benefit of all participants.

Q: Five years from now, how will a discussion about quality be different than the one we’re having today?

We will be looking at much more defined metrics and much more data available. We are rapidly moving toward an environment where data will determine how healthcare clinicians are doing in a much more defined way. Quality used to be very nebulous, but now there are going to be many specific metrics that define what performance is. With those well-defined metrics comes increased transparency. Everyone from patients to nurses, physicians, and administrators will be making decisions based on quality data.

Q: How can provider organizations prepare now for the changes to come?

Provider organizations need to be able to share information and recognize continuity of patient care and integration of providers. Providers don’t necessarily need to belong to the same group if there is significant data transfer and we understand the overall goals of the person directing the patient’s overall care. Th e biggest eff ort right now is to create interoperability and the ability to transfer data across various provider groups.

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For more information on CEP America, please visit http://go.cep.com/AHC041016.html

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