In search of high-value care


Six steps to implementing a successful high-value care initiative

What can hospitalists do to improve the value of care they provide to their patients and hospital partners?

1. Identify high-value care opportunities at your hospital.

Dr. Wray pointed out that “all high-value care is local.” Start by looking at the national guidelines and talking to your senior clinical leaders and colleagues. Review your hospital data to identify opportunities and understand the root causes, including variability among providers.

If you choose to analyze and present provider-specific data, first be transparent on why you are doing that. Your goal is not to tell physicians how to practice or to score them, but instead, to promote adoption of evidence-based high-value care by identifying and discussing provider practice variations, and to generate possible solutions. Second, make sure that the data you present is credible and trustworthy by clearly outlining the data source, time frame, sample size per provider, any inclusion and exclusion criteria, attribution logic, and severity adjustment methodology. Third, expect initial pushback as transparency and change can be scary. But most doctors are inherently competitive and will want to be the best at caring for their patients.

2. Assemble the team.

Identify an executive sponsor – a senior clinical executive (for example, the chief medical officer or vice president of medical affairs) whose role is to help engage stakeholders, secure resources, and remove barriers. When assembling the rest of the team, include a representative from each major stakeholder group, but keep the team small enough to be effective. For example, if your project focuses on improving telemetry utilization, seek representation from hospitalists, cardiologists, nurses, utilization managers, and possibly IT. Look for people with the relevant knowledge and experience who are respected by their peers and can influence opinion.

3. Design a sustainable solution.

To be sustainable, a solution must be evidence based, well integrated in provider workflow, and have acceptable impact on daily workload (e.g., additional time per patient). If an estimated impact is significant, you need to discuss adding resources or negotiating trade-offs.

A great example of a sustainable solution, aimed to control overutilization of telemetry and urinary catheters, is the one implemented by Dr. Wray and his team.7 They designed an EHR-based “silent” indicator that clearly signaled an active telemetry or urinary catheter order for each patient. Clicking on the indicator directed a provider to a “manage order” screen where she could cancel the order, if necessary.

4. Engage providers.

You may design the best solution, but it will not succeed unless it is embraced by others. To engage providers, you must clearly communicate why the change is urgently needed for the benefit of their patients, hospital, or community, and appeal to their minds, hearts, and competitive nature.

For example, if you are focusing on overutilization of urinary catheters, you may share your hospital’s urinary catheter device utilization ratio (# of indwelling catheter days/# patient days) against national benchmarks, or the impact on hospital catheter–associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) rates to appeal to the physicians’ minds. Often, data alone are not enough to move people to action. You must appeal to their hearts by sharing stories of real patients whose lives were affected by preventable CAUTI. Leverage physicians’ competitive nature by using provider-specific data to compare against their peers to spark a discussion.

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