Health Plan Helps Hospitals Achieve Better Grades

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , March 17, 2010

In the fall of 2008, Adventist was picked to join the pilot, and the hospital system agreed. JoAline Olson, vice president for clinical innovation for the Roseville, CA-based Adventist, says the coalition came at a good time for Adventist because it was in the midst of a single-minded purpose: trying to improve quality for its patients.

Adventist Health was selected as a partner "due to its strong presence in the Central Valley Market and strong commitment to quality," according to Blue Shield officials.

Specifically, the health system showed a significant investment in raising quality across the system by, among other things, implementing IT infrastructure improvements, developing sustainable "culture changes," and creating physician/RN councils at the hospital and system levels to improve communication.

The pilot involves four Adventist Hospitals: Central Valley General Hospital and Hanford Community Medical Center, both in Hanford; San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield, and the Sonora Regional Medical Center in Sonora.

The three-way partnership aims to create an environment in which hospitals are supported and motivated to dramatically improve on different levels in measurable improvements: Clinical quality, patient safety, health outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

"We've been on a quality journey for several years," says Olson. "Our goal is to have 90% in three years and get rid of the variability. It would be fair to say there is room for improvement. We aim to increase quality, decrease cost, and provide the highest valued care for purchasers, payers, and ultimately for the patients."

We'll be waiting for the final grades, but this could serve as a model for other regions as all stakeholders struggle with improving quality and reducing costs.

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Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.

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