Kenneth Kizer's commentary ("Conducting a dissonant symphony," April 5, p. 20) highlights the need for a coordinated healthcare quality effort. I couldn't agree more.
The Leapfrog Group, an employer coalition of large private- and public-sector healthcare purchasers that encourages hospitals to pursue practices that improve patient safety and healthcare quality, announced on April 27 its adoption of the National Quality Forum-endorsed Safe Practices for Better Healthcare as our next "leap" ("Leapfrog ups the ante," May 3, p. 18).
We now include in our hospital survey questions all 30 of the NQF-endorsed safe practices, procedures and goals that, if adopted, would significantly improve patient safety and healthcare quality. (Our previous three practices-computerized physician order entry, intensive-care-unit physician staffing and evidence-based referrals-are also NQF-endorsed practices.)
Patient safety and quality improvement don't happen by accident. It is the result of very hard work by a lot of committed people using the best available guide. The NQF safe practices and Leapfrog's leaps provide that guide.
... a provider on board
In his commentary, Kenneth Kizer challenges all parties interested in improving healthcare quality to get on board (May 3, p. 18). As chief medical officer for Catholic Healthcare Partners, I am ready for this challenge.
CHP's mission is to provide the safest and highest quality of care possible to our patients. As a result, we have adopted National Quality Forum-endorsed performance measures systemwide in order to standardize our quality information, make comparisons among our regional health systems and competitors, for organization and leadership evaluations and for rewarding best practices that lead to clinical quality innovations.
Now our commitment has turned to transparency through the use of these standardized performance measures for public reporting and accountability. In the emerging age of pay for performance, the old adage that you can't manage what you can't measure suddenly has new meaning to our CEOs and boards.
Senior vice president and chief medical officer
Catholic Healthcare Partners
Not too soon ...
Regarding your cover story, "Too much too soon?" (April 26, p. 6): I have been the information systems director for a 25-bed hospital for a little more than two years. I support the Joint Commission mandating the checking of medications prior to dispensing them to the patient for the following reasons:
* This would essentially require an electronic medical record to be implemented. That's an expensive proposition, but there are tremendous financial benefits that more than match the cost of implementation.
* It would make it much easier for administration to implement technology in the clinical areas by eliminating some of the resistance that we currently face.
* The proposal does not call for implementation by Jan. 1, 2007, only that there be a plan to do so. This would still allow the hospital to budget the project and implement it in a reasonable time frame.
* And, most importantly, it would decrease medical errors.
It will be extremely difficult to implement technology in some of the clinical areas without some sort of mandate from an outside authority. The inertia and resistance is such that the IT folks can't get it done on their own.
Information systems director
Cibola General Hospital
... but give us rest
I can't help but wonder when healthcare stopped being fun. I guess the Joint Commission has it's heart in the right place but sometimes I feel my whole life is a progression of standards, policy and procedures, documentation and quality improvement.
If the documentation says it's true, then it's true. I'm not against improvement or raising the quality of care. But all of this feels like it's more about money than care.
TAP and ethics
Regarding your item on TAP Pharmaceutical Products' compliance program (Outliers, May 3, p. 36): TAP is committed to fostering a culture of leadership and integrity through effective ethics and compliance. As such, we regularly engage and interact with our employees, other companies and industry groups in an effort to share and learn about effective ethics and compliance programs. This is one way of staying current and providing our employees with the most up-to-date guidance needed to adhere to high ethical standards and comply with applicable laws and regulations.
Our participation at the recent Health Care Compliance Association meeting, which you covered in your column, is just one example of TAP's commitment to sharing and learning about effective ethics and compliance programs.
Your article's implication that TAP was using the HCCA meeting to "spin" its image was simply wrong. Rather, we were there in a genuine spirit to share and learn about effective ethics and compliance programs.
We hope that your article doesn't discourage other companies from sharing important lessons and participating at valuable learning forums such as the HCCA in the future. TAP maintains its commitment to fostering a culture of leadership and integrity.
L. Stephan Vincze
Ethics and compliance officer
TAP Pharmaceutical Products
Lake Forest, Ill.
What do you think?
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