Health systems across the country are addressing affordability for the benefit of patients and for the sustainability of the industry. Research shows that enhancing the quality of patient care is one step that can significantly reduce medical expenses.
High-performing health systems save money when clinicians help patients effectively manage chronic conditions, avoid unnecessary services, receive recommended preventive care and screenings, and utilize community resources. HealthONE offers a powerful example for implementing this approach in the real world.
As the largest healthcare system in Denver, HealthONE is focusing on quality as a primary means to control healthcare spending. They are proving that when patients are treated with appropriate, timely, compassionate care, costs go down. At the same time, patient outcomes, satisfaction and the overall value of healthcare improve, which is something we can all feel good about.
HealthONE’s interventions to improve quality and reduce costs generally fall into two overlapping categories: evidence-based medicine (EBM) and patient safety. EBM prioritizes the most efficient and effective treatment options, integrating clinical experience and patient values with the best available research information. This ensures that the right patients are receiving the right care, avoiding unnecessary services, preventable complications, and expensive readmissions.
A few of HealthONE’s system-wide approaches to reducing the average length of stay include enhanced surgical recovery programs, reduced door-to-needle time (time to treatment) for ischemic stroke patients, and enhanced testing and cleaning to prevent C-diff infections. These tactics have saved patients hundreds of days in the hospital, and tens of millions of dollars in avoidable fees.
Improved patient safety is another high-impact approach to cost savings in healthcare. By reducing medical errors and variations in care, HealthONE is able to provide consistently high-quality outcomes. Technology and colleague training are essential tools in ensuring patient safety. HealthONE has introduced the Virtual RN program, which provides 24/7 remote monitoring of hospital patients. These experienced virtual nurses utilize real-time patient data and predictive modeling across the system to identify potential complications before they arise. They also serve as another set of eyes to support bedside clinicians. In addition to effective monitoring, patient safety depends on a highly trained healthcare workforce. HealthONE invests heavily in staff retention efforts, as well as development and education programs to prepare the next generation of clinicians. Engaged and informed clinicians provide better care and result in happier patients.
These quality improvement efforts are being recognized nationally. IBM Watson Health named HCA Healthcare/HealthONE as the top health system in Colorado for two consecutive years based on metrics that track infections, complications, patient experience and other patient data. HealthONE patients are benefitting from coordinated, evidence-based care that allows them to better manage their own healthcare journey as well as costs.
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