Today, the American College of Surgeons (ACS), in association with the American Cancer Society, hosted the ACS Surgical Health Care Quality Forum Georgia, the 11th program in a series of events to drive national discussions on effective quality improvement methods that surgeons, physicians and hospitals are using to improve patient safety and reduce costs. Presenters also announced the creation of the Georgia Surgical Quality Collaborative, a statewide effort to encourage information-sharing among hospitals and utilize the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) to focus on improving outcomes in key areas of surgical care.
The forum also featured a panel of Georgia health care leaders and a rich discussion on how state hospitals, academic institutions, health plans and government institutions are using quality improvement programs, including ACS NSQIP, to improve patient outcomes and increase the value of health care.
"We are at a critical period in health care delivery where we have the opportunity to be leaders in bringing quality improvement programs to Georgia in an effort to benefit our patients and reduce costs," said forum co-host LaMar McGinnis, MD, FACS, past president of ACS and senior medical advisor and liaison to the American Cancer Society.
"Regulators are continuing to realize the value of using clinical outcomes data versus administrative claims data to measure and track quality," said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, executive director of ACS. "As CMS and others start tying these measures to value-based purchasing programs, hospitals have a reputational and financial incentive to participate in programs like ACS NSQIP to achieve better outcomes and decrease costs."
New Georgia Surgical Quality Collaborative Announced
Led by the ACS Georgia Chapter, nine hospitals have agreed to participate in a state-wide collaborative, with five additional hospitals slated to join in 2013. The goal of the collaborative is to share information from ACS NSQIP and compare surgical outcomes with each other and with other hospitals nationwide. The ACS NSQIP database collects preoperative, intraoperative and 30-day outcome variables on more than 117,000 major surgical procedures.
"This collaborative is a significant milestone to improve care for surgical patients in our state because it allows us to create a positive learning environment among all participating hospitals and work together to determine where improvement is needed most," said John Sweeney, MD, FACS, W. Dean Warren Distinguished Professor of Surgery, and chief, Division of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine. "As it stands, hospitals can't fix errors if they don't know a problem exists. Examining and comparing clinical outcomes data with our peers from each corner of the state will help us move the needle to improve patient outcomes and reduce overall health care costs."
A recent study by Sweeney, et al., "Risk Factors for 30-Day Hospital Readmission among General Surgery Patients," was published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of American College of Surgeons and showed postoperative complications drive readmissions – citing surgical site infections (SSI) as one of the biggest contributing factors (22.1 percent). Studies show that hospitals participating in ACS NSQIP prevent an average of 250-500 complications, and save 12-36 lives and $3 million per hospital, per year. With the average cost of surgical complications equaling $11,000 per occurrence, the combined potential savings of 4,500 hospitals could add up to $13-26 billion each year and a total savings of $260 billion over a period of 10 years.
Forum Presenters Discuss Benefits of Quality Programs
Keynote speaker Kenneth E. Thorpe, PhD, Robert W. Woodruff Professor and chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, and executive director, Emory Institute for Advanced Policy Solutions, spoke about the "bigger picture" of health care quality improvement stating, "while surgical quality and outcomes are clearly key drivers for health reform and cost, focusing on evidence-based care coordination models and chronic disease prevention will also be critical to managing quality improvement and cost-containment moving forward. For example, chronic disease accounts for 84 percent of health care spending, and those patients also have high rates of preventable hospital admissions and readmissions."
Additional forum presenters commented on proven quality programs that are making an impact on patient outcomes and health care costs in local hospitals and nationwide, including: