April 08, 2015

UAB Care celebrates first year of quality push

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uab care inside"Every patient. Every time." That's the mantra of UAB Care, an ongoing, hospital-wide initiative focused on optimizing care for specific clinical conditions and ensuring that redefined standards are applied in every case.

Launched in January 2014 and being implemented under the leadership of Chief Medical Officer Loring Rue, M.D., and Associate Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President for Clinical Effectiveness Ben Taylor, M.D., the program has three main objectives:

  • Improving the quality of care using evidence-based guidelines to drive clinical services and improve patient outcomes and experiences
  • Reducing practice variation by standardizing processes and assuring compliance with regulatory standards
  • Controlling costs through standardization and using technology to increase productivity and reduce expenses
UAB Care follows a structured process to identify evidence-based best practices for each clinical condition under review, define appropriate changes needed, and implement recommendations from faculty and "redesign teams." The process draws additional input from nursing and other clinical and operational leaders and staff.

"UAB Care was established on the principle that providing consistent, evidence-based care – as defined by our faculty and hardwired into our system – will improve patient outcomes and patient, family, and employee satisfaction," Rue says.

The first condition reviewed by UAB Care was heart failure, which was followed by reviews of eight other conditions including sepsis, hip and femur fracture, elective total joint replacement, ventricular assist device, and percutaneous coronary intervention. Most recently, teams have been organized to review the care protocols for liver and kidney transplant patients.

"The redesign process is fairly straightforward and easy to replicate," Taylor says. "The key is having faculty and staff embrace it and engage in the process. We also benefit from thoughtful discussions in a non-crisis setting, where distractions might otherwise keep us from having the full attention of participants."

To date, the UAB Care program has achieved several successes clinically, operationally, and financially, based on measures that are both outcomes- and process-oriented. Outcomes measured include mortality, length of stay, patient satisfaction, and variable cost per case. Process measures are defined by each redesign team to ensure that the condition-specific guidelines are followed and to identify additional opportunities for education and intervention. The measures are compiled onto scorecards that are reviewed monthly by the respective teams.

"It's been a successful first year, and we've learned a lot about how we currently do business," Rue says. "Thanks to the contributions of more than 200 people by our estimation, we are building upon the initial improvements we have made and gaining momentum into the future."

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the ongoing activities and successes of the UAB Care program. A page on ONE is currently being developed where you will be able to learn more about the program and see where work has been done and is underway. Additionally, the outcomes of the redesign efforts will be made available on the site. You also may contact the UAB Care team at uabcare@uabmc.edu.