Quality healthcare delivery has become a major focus in many areas in the United States healthcare system. Since healthcare costs are rising at a pace much greater than inflation or the consumer price index, corporations providing health benefit plans want assurance that the cost of these benefits is linked to a high quality product. While large corporations have started quality and value analysis through groups such as Leapfrog and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the government is now on board with the concept. The Tax Relief and Healthcare Act of 2006 has specifically required Pay for Performance measures to be implemented over time for both hospitals and physicians. Quality data are now used in a scaled performance-based payment system. Concepts such as "value-based competition" will continue to dominate health care finance. Our major residency accrediting body, the ACGME, now requires programs to teach residents "systems-based practice" and how to evaluate practice outcomes. We will be judged in the future on the outcomes of our resident performance. At the completion of training, residents must not just understand quality improvement, but must demonstrate expertise in problem analysis and implementation of solutions.
For the above reasons, the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine created its Section on Quality and Patient Safety (SQPS) in 2007. The Section operates according to a strategic plan, which is revised every three years to ensure it is relevant to changing conditions both internal and external.
The SQPS monitors our clinical and business performance, institutes appropriate changes in our practice based upon evidence-based guidelines and practice advisories, educates our faculty and residents on this new quality paradigm, and helps to lead the nation in this initiative. Intra-departmental resources committed to the Section include data managers, an outcomes analyst and a nurse practitioner. The SQPS works closely with our residency program, our CRNAs and UAB Hospital to facilitate a smooth flow of information across other departments, and to ensure that frontline staff are intimately involved with patient safety and quality improvement.
Philip McArdle, M.D.
Vice-Chair, Quality and Patient Safety