The American Hospital Association (AHA) announced that University Hospitals, a comprehensive health system with more than 20 hospitals, 50+ health centers and more than 200 physician offices serving northern Ohio, has been named the 2022 recipient of the American Hospital Association Quest for Quality Prize.
University Hospitals, headquartered in Cleveland, was selected by a multi-disciplinary committee of healthcare quality and patient safety experts based on its exemplary achievements. The committee recognized University Hospitals for data-driven quality and safety improvements, developing innovative strategies to deliver equitable care, and establishing effective strategies to share quality and safety improvement across its organization and with other healthcare organizations.
In addition, three other health systems and hospitals will be recognized for their leadership and improvement in quality and safety. Ochsner Medical Center, based in New Orleans, and WellSpan Health in York, Pa., will be honored as finalists while NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Ill., will receive the Citation of Merit.
The American Hospital Association Quest for Quality Prize recognizes healthcare leadership and innovation in improving quality and advancing health in communities. The Quest for Quality Prize was first awarded in 2002. This year’s recipients will be recognized on July 18 at the AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego.
“This year’s Quest for Quality prize honorees have made outstanding contributions in elevating the quality of care they provide each day to their patients and communities,” said Rick Pollack, AHA’s president and CEO. “The important lessons learned from these leading organizations will inspire hospitals and health systems to advance care across the country.”
Prize Winner: University Hospitals Health System – Cleveland
University Hospitals’ approach to quality, safety and equity is embedded into the culture, from the board level to the unit level across its system that serves 16 counties and more than one million patients. Beginning in 2018, senior leaders aligned around a goal of Zero Harm, communicated this goal and all employees, both clinical and nonclinical, began receiving training on UH’s Zero Harm initiative and the importance of believing that harm is preventable. Zero Harm focuses on four key components: zero clinical harm, zero suffering from a poor patient experience, zero inequities and zero wasted resources. Being open and transparent by sharing data, events, concerns and opportunities, as well as fostering a ‘speak up’ culture, has allowed University Hospitals to transfer knowledge, tools and best practices throughout the organization.
University Hospitals also is addressing healthcare disparities in its communities and in the workplace. The UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Ahuja Center for Women and Children has increased access to care in one of Cleveland’s most high-need neighborhoods by offering myriad services for patients and families, including clinical, dietary, vision, dental, mental health, pharmacy, education, prevention and social needs navigation. Whether it is having a legal aid attorney working at the Center full time or nutritionists providing classes on healthy eating and meal preparation at local grocery stores, patients and families have new, innovative and effective models they can rely on.
Finalist: Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans
Ochsner Medical Center utilizes predictive analytics to improve care delivery and outcomes by applying machine learning to reduce hospital-acquired C. difficile (C. diff.) infections. Looking at a model using more than 250,000 hospital admissions over three years, the data proved beneficial for understanding which Ochsner patients were at highest risk. At Ochsner, pharmacists and physicians work together to review patients, who are identified through machine learning, and intervene when possible. In just a two-year period, monthly hospital-acquired C. diff infections fell by 49% which saved patients from suffering and reduced costs by more than $4 million.
Ochsner’s use of the dyad model is another commitment to quality improvement in which unit-based medical directors and nursing unit directors work together to produce better outcomes for patients. This collaborative effort was evident last summer when New Orleans had a substantial COVID-19 surge, and Ochsner had to double its intensive care beds while facing a shortage of nurses to staff them. The shared perspective and communication between units allowed over 200 medical staff members to learn nursing flows, ultimately contributing more than 10,000 hours to support nurses in keeping their patients safe.
Finalist: WellSpan Health – York, Pa.
To support its focus on health equity, WellSpan Health dug into its electronic health record system to understand breast cancer screening rates by race and understood there was an opportunity for improvement. The results were immediate as the system’s efforts increased the overall screening rate for all patient groups but because of additional resources, screening rates among Black and Hispanic women increased faster, thereby narrowing the gap between groups.
The eight-hospital health system serving central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland has partnered with a wide variety of community leaders and groups ranging from deacons to school teachers to local police. They have used these and other community connections to improve health including maternal morbidity, COVID-19 mortality and COVID-19 vaccination rates. WellSpan’s work with community leaders in York and surrounding areas ensures they understand and are working to respectfully meet the needs of all they serve.
Another instrumental improvement resulted from identifying higher than expected sepsis mortality rates, which led to the creation of a RN-staffed telemonitoring team. The team was able to identify early signs of sepsis, initiate timely treatment and monitor patients to ensure all components of the sepsis bundle are completed. These efforts have saved the lives of 350 patients with a principal diagnosis of sepsis in the past three years.
Citation of Merit: NorthShore University HealthSystem – Evanston, Ill.
NorthShore University HealthSystem’s creation of a Health Equity Impact Team reduced disparities in healthcare delivery and clinical outcomes. One example of the system’s improvement efforts is its extensive use of remote monitoring for both chronic and acute conditions such as heart failure, COPD and pneumonia that enabled earlier interventions in patient care to avoid ED visits or readmissions. Also, NorthShore established a Community Investment Fund with an initial $100 million commitment to support their goal of becoming an anchor organization that advances economic development, health and health equity in the communities it serves.