America's premier health care accrediting and certification organization spotlights on its website Parrish Medical Center in a white paper written to help hospitals benefit from PMC's experience in achieving a national patient-care first.
The Joint Commission, which accredits nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs, has published "A Framework for Achieving Clinical Integration," which details how PMC designed and carried out the years-long effort that earned PMC the nation's first Joint Commission certification for integrated care.
"Integrated care certification offers an opportunity to measure success within the network for reducing readmissions, cost of care, and effective management of patients with chronic diseases," the white paper says.
Officially named "The Joint Commission's Gold Seal for Integrated Care Certification," the process "reviews how well an organization handles information sharing, including handoffs, IT integration and other integration points."
Integrated care - health care providers communicating, sharing, and working together - benefits patients in their care, safety, and outcomes, said George Mikitarian, PMC president and CEO.
"Integrated care is quite literally a worldwide movement to improve patient care," Mikitarian said. "Unfortunately, it takes no effort for a health care provider to claim its providing integrated care, and such claims can mislead patients.
"That's precisely why we sought certification, so patients could have confidence in us and to use what PMC has done as a benchmark to measure against providers who make claims without substance."
The white paper explains how Parrish Medical Center in 2009 made integrated care emphasis part of its strategic plan; the decision to seek Joint Commission integrated care certification; and how it used The Joint Commission's initial review to make care improvements that met certification standards.
"The Joint Commission certification evaluation forces you to demonstrate that coordination of care," Edwin Loftin, PMC vice president of acute care, said in the white paper.
Among the Joint Commission reviewers' comments in the white paper that PMC has used to benefit patients:
- Define within clinical care partners who is responsible for what processes
- Look for ways to match service capacity to meet needs of the community
- Ensure that information systems link patients, providers, community agencies and payers across continuum of care
- Define meaningful and agreed-upon metrics among the clinical care partner
- Assure oversight/governance of a model that crosses organizations
- Guarantee that components within an integrated care structure are accountable
The white paper also explains how, by collaborating as well with community organizations, PMC's integrated care initiative quickly achieved quantifiable results. For example, "PMC reduced the readmission rate from SNFs (skilled nursing facilities' patients admitted to the hospital) from 20 percent to less than 6 percent, well below the national benchmark of 19 percent."
The Joint Commission's market research of its certification programs shows 92 percent of Joint Commission certification customers indicate that certification improves patient outcomes.
"Lowering costs and improving patient outcomes are why PMC focuses on integrated care," Mikitarian said. "To be the country's first, and to be spotlighted in such a way by the Joint Commission, is a testimony about the dedication of PMC's Care Partners and our community's desire to work with us to improve health for the people we serve."
The white paper is available online here.