CHANUTE—At the Women’s Health Center, every obstetrical patient is placed into a risk stratification group to help guide their care. A nurse screens all new patients at the first appointment, the physician reviews the screening and patient information, and the case receives a risk level.
“Risk stratification is a best practice, but there are significant challenges to putting it in place,” said Patty Thomsen, the clinic’s Quality Improvement Advisor from Kansas Healthcare Collaborative. “The most significant challenge is formalizing the process and ensuring that the policy and procedure flows for the clinical staff—which is part of the milestone for the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative.”
“That's huge—early identification of at-risk pregnancies is absolutely one of the best things you can do to improve health outcomes now and well into the future. And of course, that usually translates into much few costly complications,” Thomsen said.
That’s where Women’s Health Center’s partnership with KHC is proven critical, said Clinic Manager Jennifer Brady.
“Drafting all of the necessary policies and putting them into place—it’s just a whole process, and we wouldn’t have been able to do all of it on our own. Patty was instrumental. Our collaboration with KHC was crucial,” Brady said.
“Obviously, our clinical work takes the highest priority. But with Patty’s help, we established each aim and the timeline,” Brady said. “A lot of quality improvement work, we’ve already been doing, but the collaboration has helped us establish recognition for it.”
“The foundation of the Practice Transformation Network (PTN) aligns with our vision at the Women’s Health Center in Chanute, which is to bring world-class quality, value, and safety to our patients,” said Tiffany Miller, Chief Quality Officer at Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center, of which the center is a part.
“Working with the Kansas Healthcare Collaborative has helped us fine tune our practices and promote coordination in care management,” said Brady.
The initiative has helped clinics achieve large-scale health transformation by identifying areas for improvement. By sharing resources and ideas, Kansas providers can adapt their work and adopt meaningful best practice to improve patient care.
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The Women's Health Center is being recognized as a “Pinnacle Practice,” one of just five physician organizations in Kansas to receive the distinction in 2019, which comes with a $12,000 award.
Pinnacle Practices have excelled in efforts to steadily improve health care quality, safety, and value with patient-centered, evidence-based interventions. For example, they have employed person and family engagement, encouraging the patient and their family to partner with the medical staff in their care. Pinnacle Practices also have incorporated additional quality metrics and utilization metrics for national comparison and evaluation.
Another proactive effort to reduce cost and improve patient care at the clinic is training staff members on the LEAN process, which focuses on maximizing customer value while minimizing waste.
“We have employees who have trained in Lean and applied those principles throughout our practice,” said Clinic Manager Jennifer Brady. “There are a lot of efficiencies in our practice thanks to Lean, and our success in that regard translates to the best health care possible for our patients and reduced costs.”
Thomsen said such a proactive effort is indicative of the practice’s approach in general. “Being Lean trained is highly unusual for a small staff of their size, but it’s just standard for them. They do the right thing at the right time for the right reason.”
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The Women's Health Center is among 180 practices in the Kansas Practice Transformation Network, which is administered by KHC and awarded the distinction.
Rosanne Rutkowski, Program Director at KHC, said the Pinnacle Practices exemplify—each in their way—scalable successes in improving health care quality, safety, and value.
“The Women's Health Center and our state’s other Pinnacle Practices are among the leaders in Kansas working on patient-centered initiatives that improve quality, safety, and value,” Rutkowski said. “Their experience is scalable and worth emulating.”
The Kansas PTN is part of a regional network called Compass PTN, which is one of 29 regional PTNs nationwide. Together they are part of the Transforming Clinical Practice initiative (TCPi), a program of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services aimed at:
- Promoting broad payment and practice reform in primary care and specialty care;
- Improving care coordination between providers of services and suppliers;
- Establishing community-based health teams to support chronic care management; and
- Promoting improved quality and reduced cost by developing a collaborative of institutions that support practice transformation.
PTNs are peer-based learning networks designed to mentor and assist practices in improvement in the broad areas. A “Pinnacle Practice” is among the top 5% of enrolled practices based on reporting and phase progression.
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Founded in 2008 by the Kansas Hospital Association and the Kansas Medical Society, KHC embodies the commitment of these two provider groups to act as a resource and continuously enhance the quality of care provided to Kansans. For more information, visit KHConline.org/clinical-quality-improvement.