Maine: Building a New Health System Around Community
“I met other people with critical illnesses, and I knew I wasn’t alone. Our voices were heard, and we were able to make a difference in how health care is promoted in our area,” said Belinda Wee, PhD. Wee joined Bangor Beacon Community’s Patient Advisory Group after her positive experience with the community as a chronic diabetes patient. Wee serves on the Patient Advisory Group along with other patients, caregivers, physicians, and community members. The patient-centered initiative is part of Aligning Forces for Quality Maine’s efforts, led by Maine Quality Counts. The group recently extended its reach and formed a valuable partnership with the local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs).“It was a natural partnership that fit. We didn’t want to be overlapping communication,” said Dyan Walsh, director of community services at the Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Walsh said her organization’s tens of thousands of consumers were Bangor Beacon Community’s patients, and the relationship made sense.“The real strategic thing here is getting the community oriented consumers involved with the large health systems. As the consumers develop capability and confidence over the next 1-2 years- which takes that long-they, supported by the AAA staff, will be in a better position to influence the evolvement of the health care delivery system so it is more about people in the community and not the health systems themselves,” said Ted Rooney, project director, AF4Q Maine Alliance.
Detroit Cardiac Disease Prevention Exercise Program
“I knew I needed to make a change and be proactive in reducing my risk for heart disease. The exercise program helped me lose over 25 pounds and my blood pressure is down to 112/65. The personal trainers were amazing. I have more energy than ever,” said Gloria Kennedy. Kennedy, 53, a Detroit resident, and mother of two, is a testimonial to the importance of the Cardiac Disease Prevention Exercise Program led by the Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) Detroit initiative, headed by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC). After a routine checkup, Kennedy discovered she was at risk for heart disease. With the help of the GDAHC exercise program, Kennedy is the healthiest she has ever been, and has drastically reduced her risk factors. The Cardiac Disease Prevention Exercise Program is free and helps participants reduce their risk factors for heart disease and improve their overall quality of life.“What we have here is such a jewel. The time and money spent on this program is priceless. It works, it really works. I want to go out and tell everyone how many lives can be saved by taking such simples steps. It’s about getting back to basics, exercising, and eating right,” said Kennedy.
Minnesota RARE Campaign
What is the value of a good night’s sleep in your own bed? Hospital readmissions are stressful for both patients and their families. A coalition in Minnesota is working to prevent avoidable hospital readmissions. The Minnesota RARE campaign (Reducing Avoidable Readmissions Effectively) is aiming to help patients spend more nights out of the hospital and in their own beds by better managing the transition out of the hospital.
Cara Broich found herself in a spiral of complications after open heart surgery. Said Broich, “I was too sick to be assertive, so I was readmitted with heart failure.” She was re-admitted to the hospital several times after her surgery. After a third re-hospitalization, the effects of the Minnesota RARE campaign began to show; she had three appointments with specialists lined up before her discharge. “The change was amazing,” she said.
This new article in Health Affairs explores how AF4Q communities' consumer engagement efforts have evolved and offers some early lessons learned from the Alliances’ pursuit of improved health care quality, value, and transparency.
Revolving Hospital Door
Nearly 20% of patients discharged from the hospital return with problems serious enough to be admitted again. Every community has unique challenges and requires tailored solutions. Alliances in Cleveland, Oregon and Humboldt County work with care coaches, payment reforms, discharge planning and other strategies to reduce readmissions.
Communities across the U.S. are striving to improve how care is delivered and embracing new and innovated ideas. Who better to involve than the people who get the care? Five AF4Q Alliances share how involving patients in quality improvement work is transforming ambulatory care.
Making Info Knowledge
Creating transparency in health care quality is a goal of health reform, and AF4Q communities are blazing trails determining how best to display and communicate health care quality information to consumers. Read recommendations from eight of the AF4Q communities on how best to design or redesign your website to make it more consumer friendly.
Down to Business
Employers are the largest health care purchasers in America; yet they often play a passive role in cost and quality decisions. RWJF and AF4Q Alliances are partnering with businesses to help lift the overall quality of health care.
EHRs Improve Care
Researchers in AF4Q Cleveland found improvements in the quality of diabetes care — across insurance and socioeconomic status — in practices that used electronic health records, compared to those that were paper-based. The results were published in the recent issue of NEJM.
Putting Cost on the Table
Facing adding cost and efficiency measures to reports of quality performance data, 3 AF4Q pioneers say to start work early, engage communities, begin with easily accessible metrics, and release data to health care professionals first.