Clinical collaboratives promote teamwork

Another initiative at St. Louis-based SSM Health Care (SSMHC) that helps improve outcomes and engender physician buy-in is the "Clinical Collaborative" process.

As part of this process, SSMHC’s physicians work with other caregivers, administrators, and staff to make rapid improvements in clinical outcomes. Selection of clinical collaboratives occurs in alignment with system goals, such as improving patient outcomes and satisfaction and improving patient safety.

SSMHC has undertaken six collaboratives, involving 85 teams in 2002, up from 14 teams in 1999. The results for SSMHC’s clinical collaboratives for patients with congestive heart failure and ischemic heart disease demonstrate levels that approach or exceed national benchmarks.

"The Clinical Collaboratives are developed on a systemwide basis," explains Dan Hoffman, MD, administrative medical director at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan, Inc., in Centralia and Mt. Vernon, IL. "We conduct research to find specific disease processes or care areas that need to be improved. As the initiative develops, we integrate tools into them like the CARE PATHWAYS, protocols, and standing orders.

Each hospital has a multidisciplinary team that works on the project, which presents another opportunity to get case managers and quality improvement directors involved, Hoffman adds.