"Banner University Medicine – UA Department of Family and Community Medicine Quality Improvement in Patient Care" By Patty Filby
Once a month, staff members from the Alvernon clinic including physicians, administrative staff, residents, nursing staff, counselors, and front desk staff gather in our conference room, joined by internal and community partners. This group made up of extremely busy and important individuals spends one hour dedicated to one common goal: improving the quality of patient care.
To prepare for this meeting, data from our electronic medical record is collected, validated, and sent to me. I spend some quality time with Excel making graphs and pulling a presentation together. I then search for valid comparisons on the state and national level. Once this work is completed, I have an agenda, a report, and a presentation ready to facilitate the valuable time of this interdisciplinary team.
As soon as everyone arrives, we begin by giving an overview of the team and its progress. We introduce any new members, and then we get to the fun stuff: dissecting the data. Questions often include:
· Why is this number lower or higher than we would expect?
· What factors might be present that change the way we view this data?
· How does our clinic compare to other sites in Arizona and the US?
· How does this affect the care of our patients?
· Most importantly, what can we do to improve?
After reviewing all of the data for that month’s health topic, the team decides on one to three metrics to improve on. This decision is not taken lightly – it must be something measurable and attainable in a six month time frame. Then we decide what our goal is. How much do we think we can improve this percentage in 6 months? Finally, we discuss the strategy for improvement. Between meetings, I coordinate with staff members to facilitate implementing the initiatives.
As a team we discuss six different health topics and measure a variety of health indicators for each topic. In September, as a part of our Maternal and Child Health month, we discussed the percentage of pediatric patients with asthma who received their flu shot in the last year. In order to increase this number and improve the health of our patients, we decided to reach out to 111 pediatric patients with asthma. As a team we were able to schedule 40 patients for an appointment, record 6 flu shots already given in our health record, and identify existing barriers to care for our other patients. This is just one example of how this team is transforming the approach to patient care through data driven initiatives and measurable health outcomes.
As a part of my VISTA assignment, I am working with the South Campus clinic location to start a Quality Improvement Team aligned with the founding principles of the Alvernon team. As the climate of healthcare shifts from quantity of care given to quality of care received, these teams demonstrate a sustainable dedication to improving quality in primary care settings.