News Briefs

More focus needed on quality for kids

New research findings that insured children in the United States get recommended medical care less than half of the time highlight the need for health reform to focus not only on increasing the number of insured, but also on improving the quality of care, according to the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), which co-founded the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Health insurance alone doesn't guarantee good health," said Mark D. Smith, MD, MBA, president and CEO of CHCF. "Quality improvement supported by health information technology and public reporting of clinical data must be part of the health reform agenda."

Nearly all of the 1,500 children in the nationwide study had health insurance; yet the study concluded that doctors gave children the appropriate outpatient medical care only 47% of the time.

Study authors include researchers from the Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute and Rand Corp. CHCF funded development and testing of the medical-record abstraction software used in the study. Other funders included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

For more information, go to www.chcf.org.

Leapfrog Group has two new quality awards

The Leapfrog Group has begun accepting applications for two new health care quality awards.

The Leapfrog Governance for Quality Award will be given to a hospital or health system whose board has most successfully mobilized the organization to improve the quality of patient care. The Leapfrog Patient-Centered Care Award will be awarded to the hospital or health system whose board has most successfully driven the creation of a partnership between patients and their caregivers.

The decisions will be announced Jan. 7, 2008. Winners will receive the awards at a Jan. 28 ceremony at the Leapfrog Conference on the Future of Hospital Governance: Quality at the Leading Edge in Los Angeles.

PA hospital report: Quality is rising

The 2006 hospital performance report issued by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council showed a significant decline in mortality rates. Carolyn F. Scanlan, president and CEO of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), noted a number of factors that should be considered when reviewing the findings, including issues surrounding chronic disease and readmission rates.

"The linkage between the decline in mortality rates and an increase in readmission rates reflects the fact that the quality of care hospitals provide is saving more lives than ever," Scanlan said. "However, many of those surviving patients are the most chronically ill — and, therefore, most in need of continuing hospital care."

Scanlan emphasized that Pennsylvania's hospitals are active participants in a number of initiatives to improve patient care, reduce mortality and readmissions, identify and control infections, and coordinate care for patients with chronic conditions. They include the following:

  • The Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 5 Million Lives Campaign, which has implemented 12 clinical interventions for patient care in southeastern Pennsylvania, under the auspices of the Health Care Improvement Foundation and in partnership with Independence Blue Cross and HAP's Delaware Valley Healthcare Council, which has focused on preventing infections and reducing medication errors
  • In Southwestern Pennsylvania regional collaboration among hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, and the National Healthcare Safety Network has focused on reducing infections.
  • Quality Insights of Pennsylvania's programs to improve the care of acute myocardial infarctions and prevent surgical-site infections.

IHI to host 'world's largest gathering'

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) will host its 19th annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care on Dec. 12, 2007, at Orlando World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center in Florida. The event, which IHI claims will be the largest gathering of health care leaders in the world, will focus this year on the "energy of many" — the results that occur when the health care improvement community comes together for one cause.

Among the health care delivery issues to be addressed at more than 100 workshops and presentations are:

  • Engaging hospital boards in quality and safety reform;
  • Developing better systems to handle high volumes in emergency rooms;
  • Reducing hospital-acquired infections;
  • Managing chronic conditions better;
  • Redesigning medical surgery care to improve patient outcomes;
  • Engaging patients and families at all levels of care.

In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to share results and learn about best practices from IHI's 5 Million Lives Campaign at the one-year milestone of the initiative.

For a copy of the the program agenda, visit www.ihi.org.