Carl Whitmer is a man with a mission. The president and Chief Executive Officer of IASIS Healthcare Corporation (IASIS) is determined to make the company the healthcare provider of choice. Nine months after taking up his appointment, the signs are positive.
At IASIS, our mission is to become the healthcare provider of choice in the communities we serve,” says Mr Whitmer. “We are highly motivated and compassionate people and continually strive to improve the quality of life for our patients and their families.”
Located in Franklin, Tennessee, IASIS is a leading owner and operator of 18 medium-sized acute care hospitals and one behavioral health hospital in high-growth urban and suburban markets. Its hospital facilities have 4,362 licensed beds and generate annual net revenue of approximately USD2.8billion.
As part of its commitment to operational excellence, IASIS has created a quality strategy and infrastructure called the Hospital Medical Management & Quality Program (HMMQP), which standardises data-driven performance management procedures across its hospital system. The HMMQP strategy is focused on raising awareness among clinicians, ensuring effective care capture through documentation improvements and integrating best practices into the company’s overall delivery of care.
Quality improvement initiatives
“Put simply, the overall goal of the HMMQP is to continually improve the quality outcomes at all of our hospitals by equipping our leaders with broad data access and process improvement skills,” explains Mr Whitmer. “Soon after its creation, we decided to go above and beyond the basic requirements for quality reporting and subsequently expanded the HMMQP into a sophisticated system identifying and prioritising clinical goals and strategies around a number of quality improvement initiatives.”
He continues, “The new processes and procedures that we developed have led to substantial improvements in the overall quality of care we provide at each of our hospitals. Some of the notable year-over-year average composite quality improvement scores include a 7% improvement in pneumonia prevention, an 11% improvement in surgical infection prevention and 61% reduction in hospital-acquired vascular-related blood stream infections.”
“We are extremely proud of our quality initiatives spearheaded by our clinical operations team and supported by the IASIS physicians. As healthcare providers we have to show that we are making efforts to improve healthcare delivery.” And the company has amply demonstrated as much.
In 2010, IASIS was awarded two Thomson Reuters Healthcare Advantage Awards for demonstrating success with improving quality and managing the cost of healthcare across its acute care hospitals. The panel of judges not only recognised IASIS’ clinical outcomes results but also its overall performance, which was billed as ‘the best of the best’ award. “We were delighted to be honoured for our quality improvement initiatives, but we are not resting on our laurels. We are looking forward to continuing these improvements in the future,” he emphasises. After giving this interview, IASIS was awarded another Thomson Reuters Healthcare Advantage Award in 2011 for its clinical performance.
Based on its culture of continuous improvement, IASIS has selected DNV Healthcare Inc. to provide accreditation services for its hospitals. In doing so it became the first health system in the US to achieve DNV accreditation across its entire network of hospitals.
“Accreditation is extremely important as it recognizes a commitment to provide the highest quality of care for our patients. The DNV NIAHO® program offers a new approach as it focuses not only on the business processes but also on finding better ways to improve healthcare delivery. Indeed, having the opportunity to use a variety of available evidence and best practices to determine what is most appropriate for our hospitals is one of the reasons we decided to use DNV as our accrediting body,” says Mr Whitmer.
According to Patty Scott, IASIS vice president of quality and risk management, IASIS management and staff have embraced the new survey system as a way to identify and focus on new approaches to patient care and other critical aspects of running modern hospitals.
“We are fortunate to have a leadership team and workforce that are dedicated to improving healthcare delivery. As one physician executive put it, ‘with our old accreditation program, we spent too much time focusing on minutia.’ For dedicated caregivers, minutes are far more important than minutia; and the time spent in the accreditation process should be inspired by and contribute directly to better patient care.”
She adds, “DNV Accreditation is truly outcomes driven. By using ISO 9001 quality principles in concert with Medicare COPs, DNV NIAHO® allows individual hospitals to find the best way to serve their patients.”
“This is a major step in the evolution of hospital accreditation – not only for us, but for all hospitals and health networks looking for better ways to employ required tools like accreditation in game-changing ways,” adds Yehuda Dror managing director of DNV Healthcare Inc.
Turning to the subject of future developments in the healthcare industry, Mr Whitmer believes health systems in the US will continue to face the same fundamental challenge: how to deliver broad access to health services while improving quality of care and controlling costs.
“Historically, the healthcare industry has always gone through periods in which it experienced tremendous change. However, the changes we’ve experienced over the past decade – mostly due to technology advances – have been much more rapid than anything we’ve ever seen. And, the changes we experience over the next five years, again because of technology but also because of healthcare reform, will be even more significant than the tremendous strides we’ve seen over recent years.
“As for the reform, I firmly believe that we are at a pivotal point in healthcare. In order to succeed under the new reform guidelines, healthcare providers must figure out a way to evolve the way in which we deliver care,” says Mr Whitmer and concludes, “To do that, true collaboration among hospitals, physicians and even patients must begin to take shape. At IASIS, we are excited about the challenge and working hard to find game changing strategies, including our work with accreditation bodies like DNV.