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Quality Is Our Responsibility

UH Clinical Update - April 2017

By Larry J. Witmer, DO, Family Medicine
Southeast Regional Medical Director, UH Primary Care Institute

Larry J. Witmer, MD

Quality measures are tools that help us measure or quantify health care processes, outcomes, patient perceptions, and organizational structure and/or systems that are associated with the ability to provide high-quality health care and/or that relate to one or more quality goals for health care. These goals include effective, safe, efficient, patient-centered, equitable and timely care for all of the patients that come through our doors on a daily basis.

In the past several years, University Hospitals has become a leader in delivering quality health care for all of the patients seen throughout the health system.

The UH Primary Care Institute (PCI) was created to help support primary care physicians to enhance high- quality patient experience, advance physician engagement, enhance integration of care within the University Hospitals health system, improve patient satisfaction, and potentially improve operational effectiveness. There are 13 regional medical directors whose goal is to be a stronger voice to further advance our system through more personalized patient experiences and meaningful support to the physician community.

The Patient Advocacy and Shared Stories (PASS) team is a committee dedicated to helping lead process improvement throughout the system by reviewing incident reports, which can include medication errors, delay in diagnoses, appropriateness of treatment, etc. They meet monthly to track trends that are reported to them in order to try to help improve those reported concerns, and hopefully stop them from occurring repeatedly.

The Quality Assurance (QA) committees, and there are many of them (including the outpatient QA committee that the PCI established two years ago) within the health system, are actively involved in trying to achieve positive outcomes for all medical care providers, ancillary staff and all employees within the health system. The goal is to determine if the standard of care is being met in incidences in which quality concerns are identified. Once there is concern that the standard of care may not have been met, or if a quality concern has been identified, the QA committees use that opportunity to review that particular situation, which can lead to education about that incident, improve communication that may have been involved with that particular concern, and then ultimately, be an advocate for patient safety.

Our medical school oaths remind us to treat a patient as a human, not a number; to treat a patient as one of us, not someone beneath us; and to treat a patient how we would want to be treated by others. Medicine is both a science and an art that requires warmth, sympathy, understanding, respect and prevention. Our responsibility as physicians goes beyond scientific journals, studies and textbooks.

The quality of care that we provide can have parameters and definitions so that a goal(s) can be achieved, but quality can also be intangible, unmeasurable, and an unseen gift that we all have as physicians. That is, we share dedication, compassion and a genuine hope that we can make a difference in the health care of those who seek it. So, when the days are long, and the nights are short and time seems to be racing by, try to remember that there aren’t many professions that allow a person the honor and privilege of doing what we do.