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August 11, 2017

AHA names 24 'Stars' of health care. Is your organization one of them?

Daily Briefing

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has named this year's "Stars of the Field" awardees, recognizing hospitals and health care organizations that AHA's considers the standout performers in different areas of focus.

AHA profiled the winners in the August issue of its official magazine, Hospitals & Health Networks.

Access our new cheat sheets: How hospital quality ratings programs work

In the magazine, AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack wrote that the awards "spotlight the creativity not only within individual organizations but also within our field as a whole." He characterized the winners as "the 'Best of the Best,'" writing, "Whether it's forging new collaborative partnerships to improve health in their communities, making giant strides in quality improvement, (or) promoting equity-of-care…, these hospitals and health systems are true leaders in our field."

NOVA Award

AHA gives the NOVA Award to up to five programs led by AHA-member hospitals that the association considers "bright stars" in improving community health. The awards honor programs that "loo[k] beyond patients' physical ailments, roo[t] out the economic and social barriers to care, and collaborat[e] with other community stakeholders."

The year, AHA gave the award to:

  • CHI St. Gabriel's Health (Little Falls, Minnesota), for its early work to fight the opioid epidemic, which included launching a community-integrated care model focused on prescription drug misuse. According to hospital officials, the program is "taking over 16,000 pills off the street every month" by curbing pill diversion;

  • Children's Health (Dallas), for organizing the Health and Wellness Alliance for Children, which brings together stakeholders—including health systems, insurers, school districts, and faith-based organizations—to collaborate on social problems to address asthma wellness  issues. Between 2012 and 2016, the alliance's initiatives have cut the number of patients coming to the hospital's ED with a primary diagnosis of asthma by nearly 50 percent;

  • Memorial Healthcare System (Hollywood, Florida), for its Healthy Youth Transitions Program, which uses evidence-based prevention and early intervention to help at-risk youth age 15 to 22 who age out of the foster care system have productive, rewarding young adulthoods. Among other positive outcomes, 96 percent of participants as of 2016 reported no new pregnancies, and 89 percent had obtained stable housing;

  • Norwegian American Hospital (Chicago), for its Care-A-Van program, which has increased health care access via a mobile medical clinic that provides preventive care to low-income children at schools on Chicago's West Side. Between fiscal year 2013 and FY 2015, the program has seen twice as many patients and provided three times as many services while maintaining the same operating budget in 2016; and

  • Palmetto Health (Columbia, South Carolina), for a dental care expansion addressing the dental health issues among low-income adults that had become more prevalent after the state cut dental care from its Medicaid program in 2009. The program has provided nearly $1.3 million worth of dental care, which corresponds to more than 3,000 provider service hours.

Circle of Life Award

AHA gives the Circle of Life Award to programs that show leadership, innovation, and collaborative focus in family- and patient-centered end-of-life and palliative care. This year, AHA gave the award to:

  • Bluegrass Care Navigators (Lexington, Kentucky), formerly known as Hospice of the Bluegrass, for "finding new and innovative ways to reach people in many settings and stages of their lives." The organization partnered with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System for a program, Bluegrass Transitional Care, that provides home coaches for patients who need additional care, resulting in a 37 percent decline in readmissions; and

  • Providence TrinityCare Hospice and TrinityKids Care, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, and Providence Institute for Human Caring, for efforts to provide "whole-person care" to every patient, implementing palliative care for all patients throughout the system. The program helps patients make conscious health care decisions, such as preparing an advance directive before every surgery—even comparatively minor operations.

In addition, AHA awarded citations of honor to:

  • LifeCourse at Allina Health (Minneapolis);
  • Midland Care (Topeka); and
  • University of Wisconsin Palliative Care (Madison).

Equity of Care Award

AHA gives the Equity of Care Award to hospitals or care systems that demonstrate leadership in equitable care by curbing health care disparities and "promot[ing] diversity in leadership and staff."

This year, AHA gave the award to Kaiser Permanente (Oakland, California), for its use of data-driven initiatives and EHRs to target health disparities.

AHA cited Kaiser's Hypertension Program Improvement Process as "just one instance of the organization's targeted improvements." According to AHA, the effort has increased blood pressure control rates among members to almost 90 percent. In addition, AHA highlighted the Equitable Care Health Outcomes Program, a related effort that implemented clinical and culturally responsive strategies to curb control rate disparities between African-American and white patients with hypertension by 71 percent and boost colorectal screening among Hispanic members by 20 percent.

AHA also named several Equity of Care honorees, including:

  • Advocate Health Care (Downers Grove, Illinois);
  • Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa, Florida);
  • Rush University Medical Center (Chicago); and
  • Cone Health (Greensboro, North Carolina).

Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award

The "Quality Milestone Award" honors the state, regional, or metropolitan hospital association that demonstrates leadership, innovation, and effectiveness in improving quality within its geographic area.

This year, AHA gave the award to the Hospital Quality Institute, which was formed in 2013 by the California Hospital Association, the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, the Hospital Association of Southern California, and the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties. The institute aims to streamline, accelerate, and sustain statewide quality improvement and patient safety initiatives. AHA said the program, which has 400 participating hospitals, has led to "unprecedented breadth, depth, and alignment of statewide quality improvement initiatives," including a 47 percent decrease in early elective deliveries, a 34 percent decrease in obstetric trauma, and—over a five year period—a 30 percent decrease in sepsis mortality.

AHA gave honorable mentions to:

  • The New Jersey Hospital Association; and
  • The Ohio Hospital Association.

The Most Wired Innovator Award

AHA gives the "Most Wired Innovator Award" to organizations based on "universality and achievement of business objectives, creativity and uniqueness of concept…, scope of the solution…, and technical creativity."

AHA this year gave the award to:

  • University of Missouri Health Care (Columbia), for a mobile application, MoodTrek, that allows patients to log their mood as well as their sleep and physical activity information, which is then synced to an EHR;

  • Lehigh Valley Health Network (Allentown, Pennsylvania), for a real-time digital dashboard that allows individuals throughout the system's two acute care hospitals to review real-time performance data—which has helped inform daily operations, curb patient wait times, and eliminate ED diversion; and

  • Kaleida Health (Buffalo, New York), for the MyKaleida mobile app, which helps patients navigate the campus.

Finalists for the innovator award included:

  • Mosaic Life Care (St. Joseph, Missouri);
  • Nationwide Children's Hospital (Columbus, Ohio); and
  • Centrastate Healthcare System (Freehold, New Jersey).

AHA's Quest for Quality Prize was on hiatus this year so its criteria could be revised to "reflect the field's broader emphasis on quality and improving health status." AHA will accept applications for 2018 for efforts to "Advance Health in America" (Hospitals & Health Networks [subscription required], August 2017).

Get the cheat sheets: How hospital quality ratings programs work

Download our one page sheets for summaries on the methodology and metric categories used in five hospital quality rating programs:

  • US News and World Report Best Hospital Rankings
  • CMS Star Ratings
  • Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Grade
  • Truven Analytics’ Top 15 Health Systems
  • Truven Analytics’ Top 100 Hospitals
  • Get the Cheat Sheets

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