A QUEST to Improve Healthcare Cost and Quality

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , February 5, 2010

"We believe this is helping us set metrics that focus specifically on how our hospitals can reduce the cost of care and deliver more reliable evidence based outcomes," says Doug Hawthorne, THR's president and CEO, and a former board chairman at Premier. Hawthorne says the QUEST program alone, through its focus on evidence-based medicine guidelines and its cost metrics, has saved its participants $800 million and saved 8,000 lives in its first year (QUEST is now in its second year). Hawthorne says those results are credible based on what he's seen in cost savings in his own 12 QUEST-participating hospitals.

Participating in QUEST helps standardize patient care protocols as well as equipment and supplies, he says, helping THR's strategic goal of achieving "systemness." That means he's able to present data to insurers that convey THR's story across the system, rather than by individual hospital. He also says QUEST indirectly will help THR save $8 million over the next few years through process improvement exercises that allow THR to contract as a system for electricity and gas, for example, and to pursue the viability of long-term strategic possibilities like an integrated health campus model as opposed to a hospital-centric one.

Put simply, it helps hospitals—even those under the same corporate umbrella—to work more closely together. It makes sense. If two heads are better than one in helping solve a problem or group of problems, 200 are even better. More than 30 new hospitals joined the QUEST program recently.

What are the other few thousand waiting for? An act of Congress?

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Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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