ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The doctors, nurses and other health professionals of the University of Michigan Health System provide some of the highest-quality health care in the country - and some of the safest, too. That's according to the American Hospital Association, which today announced that UMHS is this year's lone finalist for a major annual award.
In the seventh annual national competition, U-M comes second only to another Michigan hospital, Munson Medical Center in Traverse City.
The AHA-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize, as it is called, recognizes hospitals that have made the greatest strides toward fulfilling six quality and safety goals laid out by the prestigious Institute of Medicine: that health care should be safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable.
To compete for the prize, hospitals complete a rigorous self-nomination application, and then a small number are selected to receive site visits from the prize judges.
Doug Strong, the director and CEO of the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, will accept the finalist recognition, and its $12,500 prize, today in San Diego at the AHA's Leadership Summit.
"This is very good for us, and for all academic medical centers, to be seen at the upper-most level of what it means to be a quality organization," he says. "The judges were very impressed, and perhaps surprised, at how well -- in our very large, complex, multi-mission environment -- we were able to demonstrate that we provide high-quality care amidst all of the complexity."
He notes that quality and safety in health care require not only the best-trained clinical teams, and latest technology and techniques, but also attention to the entire patient experience, and a concerted effort to reduce of waste and the potential for errors.
Darrell Campbell Jr., M.D., the chief of clinical affairs for UMHS, adds, "Our goal is to be the safest hospital in the country, and we're always working toward that. This is a nice recognition for that - and a reminder that in health care, safety and quality are closely connected."
The AHA's letter informing UMHS of its finalist status praised what the judges had seen on their visit, including examples of what the Health System's leaders call the Ideal Patient Care Experience.
To create the ideal patient care experience for each of the hundreds of thousands of patients who turn to UMHS each year, the entire U-M health care community is working toward seven aims: creating a "medical home" for each patient to coordinate care, making patients the ultimate decision maker, promoting standardization, making safety a priority, creating an environment of customer service, coordinating care around a patient's needs, and providing facilities and amenities that promote well-being.
In summary, the AHA award citation notes that U-M is "at the forefront of university hospitals in quality improvement." The judges also mentioned that "the strong nursing leadership, the collaborative/teamwork approach, and the active engagement of residents and students in patient safety and quality improvement were also striking."
Says Strong, "To accomplish these goals, we have to have a culture of safety - that is, being open with each other about issues, errors or potential mistakes. We also have a culture of improvement, meaning that we're never satisfied with what we do and believe that we can always take the next step in improvement. And we have a culture of measurement, using evidence-based medicine as a sure path to improvement."
The Health System's willingness to invest financially in initiatives and infrastructure that support these cultures has also played a key role, he says.
But ultimately, he explains, it's the leadership of physicians and nurses, and the wholehearted participation of every member of the patient care, support and administrative staff, that made the award possible.
The AHA-McKesson prize, which is supported by grants from the McKesson Corporation and McKesson Foundation, is just one of the recent recognitions for UMHS quality and safety. Earlier this month, U.S.News and World Report
ranked the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers 13th
in the country, and rated 15 of its specialty care programs among the top in the nation.
The magazine has also ranked the U-M Medical School
and C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
among the best in the nation. Meanwhile, the University HealthSystem Consortium, made up of academic medical centers, has noted U-M's excellence in patient safety and quality efforts, ranking it sixth in the country recently. And a report prepared by the UHC put U-M at the top of the nation's academic medical centers in providing equitable care to patients in all financial situations.
In addition to striving for quality inside its own walls, UMHS is working to spread quality health care around the entire state of Michigan and the nation by leading a number of initiatives in specific area of care. From heart attacks and strokes to general surgery and breast cancer, U-M physicians and nurses are spearheading efforts that are helping dozens of hospitals understand how they are performing on quality and safety measures, and take steps to improve.
"We're very proud of the role that we play in the direct care of our patients, but we also place great importance on the role we play in the greater society, in helping spur other organizations toward higher and higher levels of quality and safety," says Strong.
Spencer Johnson, president of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, praises UMHS for the award. "The groundbreaking patient safety and quality improvement efforts of hospitals and health systems like University of Michigan ensure Michigan residents are safer and healthier," he says. "Michigan hospitals have led the nation in pioneering efforts to improve health care, saving thousands of lives and reducing costs by hundreds of millions of dollars. The combination of evidence-based best practice and the commitment of countless caregivers make these achievements possible."