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SCKMC Receives High Ranking for Quality

June 5, 2014

Quality is a word overheard frequently in the world of healthcare. It seems almost every physicians practice, pharmaceutical manufacturer, hospital, or insurance provider extends an offer of "quality service".
 

Arkansas City, KS - Quality is a word overheard frequently in the world of healthcare. It seems almost every physicians practice, pharmaceutical manufacturer, hospital, or insurance provider extends an offer of "quality service".

But what exactly is quality? How do you know the difference between a word in a marketing slogan versus an actual commitment to a higher standard? For hospitals such as South Central Kansas Medical Center, participation in programs such as the "quality initiatives" led by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) help define "quality" by comparing certain measures on a national level.

Over 6,000 hospitals participate in CMS's quality reporting program. The agency collects and publishes data each quarter to assist consumers in making more informed decisions about their health care. Data is reported as a rolling four quarters, currently covering from the fourth quarter of 2012 through the third quarter of 2013. However, hospitals are able to generate more current data, and SCKMC recently reviewed data from the fourth quarter of 2013.

In the most recent preview, SCKMC scored within the top ten-percent of all hospitals in 33 of 38 quality measures. An accomplishment that according to the medical center's Chief Executive Officer, Steve Perkins, is a result of a long term commitment by the hospital staff.

"We have talked about building a future of excellence for a number of years and now our results are showing it. To be ranked in the top 10% of all hospitals is something we have great pride sharing. It represents the hard work and attention of our team to how we deliver care," Perkins said.

Quality measures encompass data on a variety of medical services. Patient immunizations, timeliness of antibiotics, specific stroke and heart failure protocols, are just a few of the items from which data is reported.

"When (the patient) comes in here, the care that they are receiving is based on multiple peer reviewed studies that show best practices. This is all research based evidence, evidence based practice, and the research is reviewed regularly. It's a group of studies that are looked at by physician organizations and then endorsed or adopted by them. That is how quality measures are developed," said Jane Campbell, SCKMC's Director of Quality Performance and Risk Management.

While it is not a requirement for hospitals to participate in quality reporting, there is a payment reduction of up to 2% for all Medicare patient charges if a facility does not participate, or if the facility does not perform well. For heavily Medicare populated medical providers, such as SCKMC, the difference could mean losing tens of thousands of dollars annually. However, Campbell insists that the reduction does not the driving factor to participate in the reporting process.

"First emphasis is providing the best care possible, but (the quality initiatives) also impact our reimbursement. Our goal is to provide the best care possible for our patients and if there is a little bonus as far as reimbursement goes, it is just a bonus. It's a side effect and not the cause," Campbell said.

Campbell believes studies, such as CMS's quality Initiative, are a valuable tool for evaluating accomplishments as well as areas for improvement.

"As new measure sets come out, we provide individualized training to all the physicians and the nurses. I speak to all the doctors at the medical staff meeting. We have card decks that we get from the Kansas Foundation for Medical Care that outline the measures and how to provide the best care possible for our patients," Campbell said.

For Perkins, the quality initiative results reinforce the impressions regularly received from post inpatient and outpatient surveys.

"For some time we have believed we were improving our performance as we receive and read the surveys completed and returned to us from outpatients at our facility. And from letters we have received from family and patients who have been admitted," Perkins said.

Perkins referenced a recent letter from B. Jane Adams, whose mother had recently been admitted at SCKMC.

"I would like to let you know how grateful I am for the staff caring for my mother during her recent visit. Having spent my career in large hospitals, I have seen bedside care at many levels. I want you to know how much it is a comfort to me to know that your hospital is close at hand should she need immediate attention again," Ms. Adams wrote.

Perkins holds Ms. Adams letter in such high regard due to her extensive knowledge in healthcare. She is Pharmacy Manager- Quality and Safety at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center in Houston, a world renowned facility.

 (Photo: Jane Campbell, SCKMC's Director of Quality Performance and Risk Management, reviews the latest data from the CMS quality initiative.)

(Photo: Jane Campbell, SCKMC's Director of Quality Performance and Risk Management, reviews the latest data from the CMS quality initiative.)