"We want the shirt with the best quality, and for a reasonable cost"

On September 15, 2011 Dr. Karen Jones asked the attendees of AF4Q – South Central PA’s Annual Meeting, “How can we improve value?” She explained that managing one’s health care is like buying a t-shirt. It’s not that you want the most expensive shirt or the cheapest shirt, but the shirt with the best quality.

With that t-shirt dangling in front of AF4Q leaders, they’re beginning to take the next step in looking at how to balance cost and quality, so patients and employers who ultimately pay for much of health care can receive better care for lower costs.
Over the next two years, AF4Q – South Central PA, along with its Transitions of Care team leaders will be working with local hospitals and practices to collect and analyze data relating to readmission rates and costs related to unnecessary hospitalizations.

The current data, which is available through the Community Checkup, shows percentages relating to readmissions that are higher than we’d like to see. According to Chris Amy, Project Director for AF4Q – South Central PA with better communication these areas can be improved. 

“Overall, we need to improve our communication skills – not only within the health care provider community, but from provider to patient, and patient to provider. For example, as the data shows, the percentage of local hospital staff who are explaining medications to patients is only about 50 to 55 percent. As a result, patients are going back to the hospital for complications because they didn’t take the medications correctly due to a lack of understanding,” stated Chris Amy, Project Director for AF4Q – South Central PA.

With the assistance of Kristin Thomas, Director of Clinical Quality Care and Epidemiology for WellSpan Health, AF4Q will collect data of patients with diabetes, heart failure and cardiovascular disease that are being readmitted for amputations and/or complications within 30 days.

The team will analyze the data, determining the factors causing the readmissions. This will help AF4Q determine what techniques, such as TeachBack need to be better implemented, or what else can be done to teach patients the importance of following up with their primary care provider after being released from the hospital.

For more information about AF4Q’s cost and quality goals, contact Chris Amy at camy@wellspan.org.

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