Printed last year – but still appropriate:
Recently, The LeapFrog Group, a respected commercial nonprofit organization that promotes transparency and patient safety, released what it called “Hospital Safety Scores for America’s Hospitals.” The Independent accurately reported that Saint Francis Medical Center received a “C” grade.
Patients are increasingly making healthcare decisions based upon widely available quality and patient experience scores. We welcome this. Scores for quality at Saint Francis Medical Center are available at Hospital Compare (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov). Although the information published there is about two years old, we believe that Hospital Compare is superior to commercial sources like LeapFrog because it provides free, non-commercial, unbiased and accurate information.
LeapFrog bases its scores on two data sources: data that all hospitals are required to report to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services (Hospital Compare) and data provided by some hospitals through a lengthy voluntary survey. Saint Francis Medical Center — and many other hospitals — elected not to complete the Leapfrog survey as we deemed it an unnecessary use of time and resources.
The American Hospital Association correctly identifies problems with commercial scoring agencies like LeapFrog. If some hospitals are providing data through the survey while others are not, and that information isn’t available anywhere else, it’s difficult to make fair and accurate comparisons between facilities. This is what has happened with the release of the Leapfrog data.
The larger hospitals in the tri-cities area, in Lincoln, and even the Nebraska Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic received “C” grades. Kaiser Health reported LeapFrog gave 729 hospitals an “A” grade, 679 hospitals a “B” and 1,111 hospitals a “C.” LeapFrog didn’t release the names of hospitals who rated a “D” or an “F.” Unlike Hospital Compare, children’s hospitals and critical access hospitals were not rated at all. Furthermore, it appears that facilities that elected not to complete the survey could not score higher than a “C” grade. Therefore, labeling Saint Francis a “lower-rated facility,” as the Independent did may have been considered headline-worthy, but was ultimately misleading.
It’s also important to know that LeapFrog offers high-price consulting services to hospitals who wish to improve their scores. They charge hospitals licensing fees reported to be from $5,000-$12,000 for the rights to promote their high rankings if they achieve them. This means that if a hospital completed the survey and scored high, they would have to pay LeapFrog for the right to publicize their high score. The nationwide release of these new rating scores was a way to build business for their company. At Saint Francis Medical Center, we find this kind of commercialization of quality and safety data distasteful and misleading.
We understand that these types of programs will become more and more common. Our strategy is, and always has been, to focus on what is most important: working with physicians to provide every patient with the safest and highest quality care possible and continually improving the care we provide.
In 2005, Saint Francis was singled out for performance excellence by being the first and only hospital to receive the Edgerton Award of Excellence. This recognizes an organization’s ongoing commitment to improving systems and processes that lead to better outcomes. We understand that we are on a journey of continuous improvement and success requires us to be tirelessly vigilant. Here are some of our milestones so far:
- Saint Francis successfully meets the rigorous standards for accreditation by the Joint Commission. Several services — like Cancer Treatment Center, Cardiac Rehab, Laboratory and all radiology modalities are accredited by national organizations. We have also been named a Blue Cross Blue Shield Distinction Center for Hip and Knee Replacement.
- We were recently recognized by Women’s Certified as the Region’s Best Hospital for Patient Experience.
- Our patient experience scores currently rank us one of the best in nation (the 93rd percentile) when compared with Healthstream’s extensive list of clients. Patient satisfaction surveys look at key activities that relate to safety and quality, such as physician and nurse communication, quick response from staff, pain control, explaining medications and discharge instructions.
- As leaders in patient safety, we were one of the first hospitals in the state to implement bedside medication verification, using technology to prevent medication errors. And we continue to upgrade technology with Smart IV Pumps. We were one of the first Catholic Health Initiatives hospitals to introduce Rapid Response Teams. We use evidence-based practices that have proven to be the best for preventing several common safety risks.
And there are other exciting things we’re working on that will continue to raise the bar:
- SafetyFirst is a comprehensive program designed to eliminate serious safety events at Saint Francis Medical Center. Every employee and members of our medical staff are currently attending powerful safety and error prevention training. Recently, hospital leaders began brief daily huddles where we identify and work through potential safety concerns
- We are currently developing computerized physician order entry systems (CPOE) within an electronic health record. The order sets are in the development stage and include the use of evidence-based practice and current best practices, while also allowing physicians to individualize care. This is slated to be operational in 2014.
- We have begun the process to achieve Magnet status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Magnet hospitals must satisfy a set of criteria designed to measure the strength and quality of nursing care.
For 125 years, the people of Grand Island and Central Nebraska have trusted Saint Francis Medical Center for their healthcare needs. You can be confident that we are tirelessly pursuing the highest quality and safest care available. And there are 1,110 employees and 100 physicians passionately committed to continually improving the care we provide to our friends and neighbors in the place we call home.
Michael S. Hein, MD, MS, FACP
Chief Medical Officer/Vice-President of Medical Affairs
Saint Francis Medical Center