November 2013 | Igniting Improvement
Thursday, November 14, 2013
How are AF4Q Alliances Igniting Improvement?

The people in the 16 communities that make up AF4Q are not only open to new ideas, they are enthusiastically finding and testing them. They are igniting improvement in the way health care is delivered, paid for, and received. Each community is taking on the complicated issue of improving quality of care by tapping into their influence to spark reform and get things done. Explore 16 of these initiatives.

Fixing Matters of the Heart

Heart failure, with its health care services, medications, and effects on productivity, costs the nation more than $34 billion each year. According to the American College of Cardiology (ACC), heart failure is the leading cause of hospital readmissions in the United States. After recognizing that heart failure readmission rates in its area were noticeably higher than the national average, the Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative in Detroit, led by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC), launched efforts to improve early follow-up processes for heart failure patients and helped to reduce readmissions.

GDAHC partnered with the Michigan Chapter of the ACC and the Michigan Peer Review Organization to form the Southeast Michigan “See You in 7” Hospital Collaborative. Early results indicated that the 11 hospitals that participated in the collaborative reduced readmissions by 10 percent. Read the full story.

Setting Priorities

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the leading cause of cancer deaths among nonsmokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early detection is key to treating colorectal cancer, and screening tests offer a powerful tool for detect and successfully treat colorectal cancer early. Early detection is inexpensive and saves lives. If everyone age 50 years and older had a regular screening test, at least 60 percent of the deaths from this cancer could be avoided.

The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ), leader of the AF4Q initiative in Wisconsin, has made colorectal cancer screenings a priority. Seventeen out of 21 WCHQ members have reached an improvement target of a 70 percent or higher screening rate. The ultimate goal is to achieve a 70 percent screening rate for all patients by December 2013, and WCHQ is well on its way. Read the full story.

The Next Generation of Quality Data

What happens when you combine information on the social determinants of health with disease data? You get the Coalition for a Livable Future’s unique web-based mapping tool, called the Regional Equity Atlas 2.0. For the first time, the Equity Atlas now includes data from the Oregon Health Care Quality Corporation (Q Corp) that allows users to overlay disease incidence rates with social factors like walkability of neighborhoods and access to grocery stores. This information can be used to assess how well different populations across the four-county Portland metro region can access key resources necessary for meeting their basic needs and advancing their health and well-being. 

Equity Atlas 2.0 expands upon the first tool, launched in 2007, which was groundbreaking in its analysis of regional disparities. However, due to difficulty obtaining patient data, it lacked key information about chronic diseases. With the Q Corp data included in the 2.0 updates, the Equity Atlas blends community and health information seamlessly. The Equity Atlas now maps four chronic diseases (obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes) and “healthy eating, active living”—or a person’s ability to make healthy lifestyle and behavioral choices.

Read the full story here.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care and provide models for national reform. Alliance teams represent the people who get care, give care, and pay for care.
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