Data shows Ballad Health continues delivering higher quality of care

Published 2:44 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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On key quality metrics, Ballad Health has seen improvement, with many measures now demonstrating top-decile performance in the nation

JOHNSON CITY — When the merger to create Ballad Health took place between the legacy Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance, leaders sought for Ballad Health to be among the highest-performing health systems in the nation, with zero-harm, top-decile performance on key quality measures. Today, in alignment with this goal, Ballad Health is proud to announce it has achieved significant milestones toward this goal, seeing improvement in 13 of 17 targeted quality measures when compared to the baseline period prior to the merger, as well as top-decile performance among several measures.
Ballad Health now ranks among the top 90% of health systems in the nation in five of the Quality Targeted Measures. Those measures include in-hospital fall with hip fracture rate, postoperative respiratory failure rate and perioperative hemorrhage/hematoma rate.
“The ultimate goal is, and should be, zero-harm,” said Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine. “The performance we are now reporting is not only the best we’ve seen since the approval of the merger creating Ballad Health, but in many cases, it is among the best in the nation. Our affiliated and partner physicians, in collaboration with our team members, are intensely focused on being among the best health systems, and it starts with ensuring patient safety and a determination to be among the best.”
Since the merger was finalized in February 2018, Ballad Health has prioritized qualitative improvements in care, led by the formation of a Clinical Council comprised of dozens of physicians throughout the Appalachian Highlands. The Clinical Council, under then-chair and current Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Amit Vashist, declared a zero-harm, top-decile performance as its stated goal for Ballad Health. The Clinical Council, in partnership with other stakeholders, including infection prevention experts and nursing leaders, then proceeded with a series of ambitious “30 in 90” initiatives aimed at reducing various hospital-acquired infections by 30% in 90 days. Many of those initiatives, such as one for Clostridiodes difficile (C. diff.), were immensely successful.
Ballad Health sought national best practices in creating the safest environment for patients and team members. The result from this work included the mandatory policy, approved by the Board of Directors, to institute tiered safety huddles in each hospital and throughout the system. These tiered safety huddles are overseen by system chief clinical officer, Dr. Amit Vashist.
The tiered safety huddles are designed to ensure each frontline team member has the opportunity to begin each morning shift with a huddle focused on improving clinical quality, discussing with peers and leadership the opportunities to improve safety. The issues identified in these safety huddles are then elevated to hospital leadership, where solutions are sought. If further support is needed, the issues are further elevated to the regional market level and then, ultimately, to the Ballad Health corporate leadership at the highest level.
“Patient and team member safety is not something we just talk about,” Dr. Vashist said. “It is everyone’s priority, from the chair of our board to our frontline caregivers. We have to be willing to expose opportunities to create better care and safety, and we all have to be willing to be accountable for creating a high-quality environment. And this is the culture we see within Ballad Health.
“As a practicing physician, I am proud of this commitment to being among the best in the nation. I truly believe this is why Ballad Health is seeing such success in recruiting new providers to serve our region. Doctors and allied health professionals want to be part of something where they know they are contributing to improving the human condition. And that is happening here.”
Dr. Vashist credits the efforts and collaboration among Ballad Health’s infection prevention team, nursing team, quality department and the Clinical Council for the improved quality measures. He also credits the multitiered safety huddles with bringing about a “culture of real-time awareness and mindfulness” of issues pertaining to quality and safety.
Although quality measures can vary from month to month, and Ballad Health cautions about the use of data at any particular time, the positive trends emerging from the latest quality report include:
  • Clostridioides difficile (C. Diff) decreased by 44% compared to the baseline.
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) decreased by 41% compared to last fiscal year.
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) down by 45% compared to last fiscal year.
  • Iatrogenic Pneumothorax rate decreased by 66% compared to the baseline.
  • In-hospital fall with hip fracture rate decreased by 50% compared to the baseline.
  • Postoperative acute kidney injury (AKI) decreased by 50% compared to the baseline.
  • Postoperative wound dehiscence rate decreased by 28% compared to the baseline.
  • Sepsis bundle compliance increased to an all-time high of more than 64%, putting Ballad Health as one of the top performers in the nation in this domain.

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