Best practices start within our family of organizations

July 31, 2016
thumbnail_7As we work toward population health, we are drawing on best practices in the industry to guide our steps. It won’t surprise you to know that some of those best practices already live within our organization.

Many great examples can be found at Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed), one of our Seattle-based family members. Let’s look at what PacMed does:

Focus on culture

As an organization, PacMed has a heightened focus on its culture, as staff appreciate that providing personalized care to the patients they serve leads to better outcomes, as well as a positive environment for staff. The staff are recognized as one of the valuable resources of the organization and acknowledged for their contributions to making the organization a great place to work and a great place for patients to receive care.

The culture also focuses on providing proactive, high-quality health care to diverse patient populations – regardless of the payer – and working with outside partners to improve wellness across the broader community.

PacMed has instilled an appreciation for ongoing feedback and continual improvement in its culture. Its annual evaluation process for all providers involves goal setting, self-assessment and professional development goals. PacMed is also beginning an internal peer review process where specialty and primary care providers provide feedback to each other about care transitions and internal referrals. The end goal is quality care and excellent service for patients.

Keeping people well

PacMed’s emphasis on excellence is proven in its strong performance on several quality care measures. The 2015 Washington Health Alliance’s Community Checkup (an annual report measuring the state of health care in Washington State) determined that PacMed continues to perform well among its peers in quality care measures. This year, PacMed was evaluated against 27 measures for the commercially insured population and 14 for the Medicaid-insured population, with a majority of measures being better or at the state average. Some highlights include:
  • Above the national average for the avoidance of unnecessary tests for low back pain (83 percent rating
  • Above the state average on cervical cancer screening for the Medicaid population (78 percent rating)

According to national benchmarks of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, PacMed was at or above the 90th percentile on six diabetic measures and above the 75th percentile on preventive cancer-screening measures (cervical, breast and colorectal).

With the tools from groups such as the Washington Health Alliance and NCQA, PacMed is able to continually improve its quality of clinical and preventive care through its Quality Innovation Program. This program uses patient registries, reporting, and internal and external benchmarking to emphasize and encourage continuous patient care improvement.

PacMed’s use of a care management system and registries are key parts of the Quality Innovation Program. They produce monthly and real-time reports of patients’ needs for diabetes, hypertension and preventive screening, all of which help providers ensure that patients receive the care they need to manage chronic disease and prevent illness. PacMed also imbeds behavioral health in its primary care model to help support patients with chronic diseases.

Knowing who they serve

PacMed is one of only six health-care providers in the country – and the only one in the West– that offers Uniformed Services Family Health Plan (USFHP) to military families. Through its 35 years of experience with this military health plan, PacMed has learned how to better monitor and assess patients’ needs over time in order to holistically manage their care and recommend services. Services include regular preventive checkups and screenings for such conditions as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cervical or colon cancer.

PacMed duplicated this successful approach for all its patients and thereby realized significant reductions in complications from chronic diseases and the need for hospitalization.

PacMed then goes a step further, by automatically reminding its patients when it is time for routine visits to monitor and control the progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

In an exciting, new effort to accommodate patients, PacMed and USFHP began participating in a Behavioral Health Tele-Medicine pilot with the Department of Defense on June 20. The project will assess if Web-based audio/video conferencing technologies can be used to deliver safe, effective and quality mental health care in the patient’s home for those who need medically necessary mental health care. Early visits are receiving positive feedback from patients.

Best practices like these will help our entire organization provide better care and improve community health and well-being.