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More than 16,000 physicians and employees across the University Hospitals system celebrated in unison in 2012 when UH Case Medical Center earned the American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize. The award is the hospital industry’s highest honor for leadership and innovation in quality improvement and safety.
Now, UH is elevating quality nationwide by sharing lessons learned over a decade of continuous improvement with dozens of other hospitals around the country.
“The AHA award recognizes our journey to achieve and sustain the highest level of quality and patient safety,” says William L. Annable, MD, Chief Quality Officer and Director of the UH Institute for Health Care Quality & Innovation. “Now we have an obligation and the pleasure to share what we did and what we learned with other organizations.”
The award results from a systemwide commitment to achieve clear, measurable progress in six key areas: safety, patient-centeredness, effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness and equity. A wide range of stakeholders – UH’s Boards of Directors, physicians, nurses, administrative employees, and patients and their families – contributed to many new processes and procedures.
One model: the systemwide surgical safety conference UH has conducted for the past four years. For one morning each year, operating rooms at all UH facilities close. Surgeons, nurses and other operating-room professionals immerse themselves in mandatory surgical quality and safety training via simulcast from the main campus.
Transparency and accountability drive superior outcomes, Dr. Annable says. So another model practice at UH is to actively encourage patients to insist on the highest care quality. “We invite patients to ask questions like ‘Did you wash your hands before examining me?’ or ‘Will you please explain what you just said in layman’s terms?’” he says.
The most urgent lesson UH can share with other institutions, Dr. Annable says, is one its clinicians and employees remind one another of every day: “We can never be satisfied.”