For the second consecutive year, the Ohio Hospital Association has garnered an honorable mention in the Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for its leading-edge work in improving quality and patient safety. This year’s efforts have zeroed in on dramatically decreasing sepsis mortality in the state’s hospitals, as well as improving workplace safety.

As overseer of one of six Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks chosen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to further its patient safety improvement efforts through the Leading Edge Advanced Practice Topics program, the OHA facilitated a rapid-cycle improvement initiative for sepsis in 2014.

Participating hospitals saw a 34 percent reduction in sepsis mortality over the previous year by implementing early warning processes, hospital department sepsis order sets and feedback reports. Building on the LEAPT results, the OHA launched a statewide quality collaborative in 2015 to further reduce sepsis mortality. In its first 18 months, 125 hospitals joined the initiative, reducing sepsis mortality by an additional 11 percent and preventing more than 800 deaths from sepsis.

“Sepsis is now considered a medical emergency, and 80 percent of sepsis cases are present on admission,” says James Guliano, OHA's vice president of quality programs. “Our board has made this a priority for Ohio hospitals — they’ve told us they want to see a 30 percent reduction in sepsis mortality by the fourth quarter of 2018. The only way to reach that goal is to leverage the expertise of many, many parts of the continuum of care, using our strategies of early recognition and early intervention.” As one example, paramedic outreach education on early sepsis recognition has been identified as a regional opportunity to develop a standardized emergency department response to sepsis alerts generated by emergency medical services.

To further these initiatives and other population health efforts, OHA launched its Institute for Health Innovation in 2015. The organization provides resources to develop and implement strategies that accelerate quality improvements, integrate care transitions and advance community health. As a follow-up, last year the association established its Physician Leadership Council to promote greater physician input on the OHA’s strategic priorities.

“We created the institute during our centennial year to bring our leadership together across Ohio to address population health, particularly our strategic goals around quality and patient safety,” says Mike Abrams, OHA president and CEO. “We also embraced a partnership with clinical expertise, and the goal of our Physician Leadership Council is to gather the state’s physician leaders in the same room at the same time to focus on topics they want to discuss that hadn’t been covered.” He adds, “We also wanted to give them a venue to help us vet some public policy issues.”

The council has only held two meetings so far, Abrams says, but physician-member hospital engagement has already notably increased. “This is a group that’s interested in results — they want to go beyond discussion and make progress on important issues,” he says.

One of those emerging issues is focused on advancing a hospital and health system culture that integrates safety practices for health care staff and patients. “Patient safety and worker safety have been siloed, but it’s better to work on them at the same time,” Abrams says. Guliano adds: “Hospitals have put forth a lot of effort for patient safety. Now we need to learn about the commonalities and differences in approaching worker safety, and we want to take a proactive rather than a reactive approach.”

The Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership is presented annually by the American Hospital Association to a state, regional or metropolitan hospital association, which, through its programs and activities, demonstrates exceptional organizational leadership and innovation in quality improvement and has made significant contributions to the measurable improvement of quality within its geographic area.