An unflagging focus on serving patients through the provision of safe, timely, effective, efficient, patient-centered and equitable care is at the core of the work done by the AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize winners. The AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize recognizes hospitals that are using a systems-based approach in pursuit of perfection and have achieved measurable results.

Over the past 13 years, a wide variety of organizations have received this honor and, while they have varied in size, mission, type of communities served and kinds of services offered, they are unwaveringly single-minded in their pursuit of perfection in all facets of the Institute of Medicine’s Six Aims. In the process, the prize-winning hospitals are working to achieve the Triple Aim of improved care, improved health and lower per capita costs in their communities. And yet, each would acknowledge that they have challenges yet to conquer.

The Quest for Quality Committee thanks all those that applied for the 2015 awards, with a special thanks to those that hosted site visits. Collectively, these organizations provide models and inspiration for the entire field, achieving measurable results in improving patient outcomes by addressing stubborn patient care challenges. Here are some key learnings from the review of the 2015 prize applicants:

Patient safety continues to be a challenge. Our prize winners, like other hospitals, have made important progress in reducing infections and other important causes of harm for our patients. Nonetheless, much work remains to eliminate medication errors, diagnostic errors, miscommunication during patient transitions, and other threats to patient safety.

Authentic engagement of patients and families as partners in care delivery is difficult to achieve. Some hospitals have included patients and families in their organizational planning, quality oversight and other key aspects, and some have used different strategies to inform and effectively engage patients in their own care, but all have found it challenging to ensure that patients or family members understand that their insights are as valuable as the perspectives of experienced clinical experts.

Hospitals often can be data-rich, but information-poor. The prevalence of measures and data-collection activities can be misleading. It would be easy to think that the abundance of data equates to a wealth of information, but many applicants found this was simply not the case. The data provide a signal, but don’t become useful information without analysis and discussion.

Achievement of the IOM’s Six Aims requires a well-planned and coordinated strategy. Several applicants achieved remarkable progress on one or two of the Six Aims, but little progress on the remaining ones. When striving to achieve any set of aims, progress is rarely uniform, but we cannot achieve the best possible results for our patients unless we continuously strive to make progress on all six of the IOM aims.

The AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize Committee congratulates the four organizations whose achievements in pursuit of the Six Aims stood out in a field of excellent applicants — the 2015 winner, Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora; the finalist, Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.; and Citation of Merit recipients Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Ind., and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Please read their stories in this issue of Hospitals & Health Networks.

Nancy Foster is vice president of quality and patient safety policy for the American Hospital Association.


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