Blessing Health System includes two hospitals, a physician group, a four- year nursing education program, a foundation and a group of medical specialty businesses. The 307-bed system serves a large, rural geographic region. Blessing Hospital was recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-17 hospital rankings for its care of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure patients, and received a grade of “A” for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group in 2016.
What do you do when the clinical analytics solution in which your health system has invested time and money just isn’t the right fit? It was nearly a year before Blessing Health System could access data through its former tool. Logistically, it was difficult to access and use. Uploading information was complex and customer service levels didn’t meet the health system’s expectations.
The Blessing team was introduced to Vizient™ Clinical Data Base (CDB) at a conference, but was naturally hesitant that the solution could live up to all that it promised. Now that the team has been hands-on with CDB for nearly two years, Lance Privett, director of performance excellence and medical staff office, said there was no cause for concern. “What we witnessed in that demonstration was true. CDB really does do all of that in real life,” he said.
Vizient CDB is an industry-leading performance improvement solution that allows clinical leaders to focus their improvement efforts, realize improvements faster and sustain improvements longer than any other offering on the market.
Blessing looked to CDB in 2015 to help them develop risk-adjusted data to drive improvement projects with like comparison groups. Three primary insights necessitated the change to CDB:
- Blessing’s current data process wasn’t meeting its needs
- Administrators wanted transparent, risk-adjusted data
- Administrators wanted to be able to compare Blessing with like hospitals and know which health care organizations they were comparing against
CDB and the Vizient team impressed from the start, beginning with a user- friendly implementation process that took a mere eight weeks. “From a contractual perspective, it was seamless — and it’s not always that way,” said Privett, who added that CDB has excellent security measures in place. “In the past, setting up the backbone just to access our files took a long time, so a key part of this for us was having an easy transition to get our data to Vizient. Honestly, it was a breath of fresh air compared to our previous experience.” Heather Girouard, clinical database coordinator, agrees. “Vizient was always quick to respond to my concerns and emails, and we had weekly calls involving the right team members to address our issues,” she said. “With our previous vendor, we were kind of on our own to solve our issues. But Vizient worked with us and spoke in a language we understood. They did everything they could to speed along implementation, and we weren’t waiting around for solutions.”
Regular benchmarking and goal-setting are top priorities for Blessing, so when CDB began delivering actionable insight within eight weeks, the team was thrilled. The transparent, risk-adjusted data from CDB helped Blessing hone in on opportunity areas such as readmission and mortality, while also ensuring that it sustained improvements already achieved. CDB publishes the risk-adjustment methodology used to define severity of illness and risk of mortality, making it a more impactful and trusted resource because it removes any questions about data validity.
Transparent, risk-adjusted data of CDB enables:
- Easy report access — All team members to log in and build, run and validate reports. “Our previous system was so cumbersome that only a few people ran reports, and it was difficult to understand the data you were getting out of it,” said Girouard. Gerri Buss, process improvement specialist, agrees. “If I want to look at a certain element, I can slice and dice it the way I want to for my deeper dive versus having to ask someone else to do it. That’s a huge advantage for me.”
- Apples-to-apples comparisons — CDB allows members to know specifically which hospitals they’re comparing themselves against, a quality that’s proven extremely important to Blessing. “Both Gerri and I have reached out to other hospitals regarding projects we’re working on, and it’s neat to see that everybody else is working on the same things we are,” said Privett. “This also helps us validate data because we’re relying on this data to establish our targets and goals. So we can show anyone who challenges that data that yes, it’s possible because these other hospitals are doing it. It’s a great way for us to stretch ourselves.”
- Process redesign of ongoing professional practice evaluation (OPPE)/focused professional practice evaluation (FPPE) — Blessing is redesigning its OPPE process now that it can drill down to physician-level data with the CDB Physician Insight component. The tool helps members satisfy The Joint Commission’s OPPE/FPPE reporting requirements. “I like CDB’s transparency, the level of detail and how it makes the comparisons, particularly in situations where we may have only one provider doing a particular service line or type of procedure,” said Kim Pitcher, data analyst. “Being able to provide physicians with comparative data regarding their quality of care is extremely beneficial to them, and I’m excited to give them data around which they can really take action.”
- Maximize use of the Community Q&A Report — Blessing now has a balanced scorecard with a transparent methodology comparing them to like hospitals with specific metric areas that also tie to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services measures. “The quality and accountability performance scorecard is our challenge to be better,” said Buss. “This is as close to live data as we can get, and it puts us in a competitive mode to be a five-star organization.”
CDB will help ensure that Blessing sustains its clinical improvements, even as the team moves on to other endeavors. “If you don’t have data, then you don’t know if you’re staying in place or if you’re moving, but we have the data we need with CDB,” said Privett. “Keeping things valid over time is extremely important to us, especially because we’re a Six Sigma organization.”
Blessing team members continue to learn more about the solution’s capabilities from the Vizient Performance Management Advisory Services team and by attending Vizient clinical conferences. “Our performance improvement adviser is always there and she really took the time to get to know our organization,” said Privett. “She points us in the right direction and explains things thoroughly, and she’s been a big part of our success.”
The Blessing team came away from a recent clinical conference inspired and excited to put new ideas to work. “The conference was great, and it really opened our eyes to other ways we can use CDB data — just by seeing how other organizations improved their processes and quality scores,” said Girouard.
CDB was the right choice for Blessing, according to Privett. “And I would do it again,” he said. “We’ve showcased the power of Vizient throughout our organization by sharing our results and reports with senior leaders and showing them how the solution works. If someone were to ask me, I would say that if you don’t have CDB already, you should definitely consider it.”