Nation-leading quality initiatives have resulted in significant improvement in participating hospitals across Florida, according to a new report released today by the Florida Hospital Association (FHA). Readmissions dropped 15 percent, surgical complications were reduced by 14.5 percent and millions of dollars in costs were saved over the first five years that the state's hospitals worked together on programs aimed at improving hospital quality.
Under FHA's leadership, Florida's hospitals:
- Became the first in the nation to report readmissions rates publicly, and the first to launch a statewide program to reduce readmissions through the Florida Collaborative on Reducing Hospital Readmissions.
- Launched the Florida Surgical Care Initiative (FSCI), the nation's largest statewide surgical quality collaborative in partnership with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and with support from Florida Blue, aimed at reducing surgical complications.
- Became an early participant in significant national initiatives to reduce blood stream infections, urinary tract infections and patient harm.
"As we reach our five-year milestone, we can be proud that our efforts have led to significant results - lives have been saved, care has improved and we've reduced the cost of care," said Bruce Rueben, FHA president.
Because of this measurable success, the Florida Hospital Association has been awarded the American Hospital Association's (AHA) 2013 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership, one of the nation's top quality awards. The award was presented July 25 at the 2013 Health Forum-AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego.
Florida's Five-Year Quality Journey
Five years ago, as health reform discussions began, Florida's hospitals became a target of criticism for poor outcomes and high costs as a state. While some individual hospitals were focused on quality improvement, as a whole, the state ranked among the lowest on national benchmarks for quality and costs. Hospitals came together to set a goal of becoming a national model for high-quality care.
More than 160 hospitals have participated in the initial quality improvement programs. Through educational meetings and statewide events, guidance from national experts, and projects to improve hospital culture, care transitions and communication, hospitals were able to share best practices and implement recognized methods of improving care.
Efforts resulted in notable improvement, according to the report:
- Readmission rates in participating hospitals dropped 15 percent, preventing 1,500 readmissions and saving at least $25 million over two years.
- Surgical complications are down 14.5 percent in just 15 months, resulting in 89 lives saved, 165 complications prevented and more than $6.67 million in cost savings.
- Blood stream infections are down 41 percent and urinary tract infections are down 37 percent, resulting in 38 lives saved and more than $16 million in reduced costs.
"In the past, our hospitals focused on individual quality efforts. We've now seen that we can achieve greater and faster improvement together than we could individually," said Steven D. Sonenreich, CEO of Mount Sinai Medical Center and chair of FHA's Board of Trustees.
The report identifies the key lessons participating hospitals learned as they worked together to improve care, including:
- Collaboration has helped hospitals improve faster and more efficiently.
- Culture - including communication and teamwork - has been integral to implementing and sustaining quality efforts
- Robust data have been critical to understanding the problem and tracking progress.
- Partnerships have helped extend quality efforts and expand learning opportunities.
Today, hospital initiatives continue. After an initial two-year pilot, FSCI has been extended in association with ACS for at least three more years, and expanded to encourage greater participation. Programs to reduce readmissions, infections and patient harm continue to be a focus through FHA's Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Network. The network, coordinated through the AHA's Health Research & Educational Trust, is part of a nationwide project of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"Though we've reached the five-year mark, we see this as just the beginning of our work to provide the best possible care for Florida's patients. We want to take these lessons and successes, and ensure quality care remains central to all we do," said Allen Weiss, MD, CEO of NCH Healthcare System and chair of FHA's Quality and Patient Safety Committee. The full report, and a video highlighting the five-year results, are available online.