Partnering for Safety
As healthcare executives, we are all aware of and striving toward the broad and common goal of reducing preventable harm to patients. But did you know that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have your back? Yes, lest we think we are doing it alone, the team at CMS would like us to be aware of the strides they are making to innovate for patient safety.
Using a systems approach, the Partnership for Patients (PfP) is a CMS initiative that focuses on education and advocacy to make advances in quality improvements, spread best practices, and promote reduction in preventable injury and subsequent readmissions.
“Aligning toward a common goal fosters synchronized communications, leverages broader perspectives, and promotes a higher likelihood of success.”
Why a systems approach? “Explicit effort to think about systems is necessary for organizational learning and innovation because humans tend to concentrate their efforts and understanding on those parts of the system for which they are directly accountable,” explain the authors of Partnership for Patients: Innovation and Leadership for Safer Healthcare (Journal of Healthcare Management: May/June 2017 – Volume 62 – Issue 3 – p 166–170). The authors—Patrick Conway, Shelly Coyle and Nancy Sonnenfeld—are members of the CMS Quality Improvement and Innovation Group (QIIG). This team believes that systems thinking can help eliminate harmful events and lead to efficient innovations in healthcare.
PfP employs a multipronged strategy to reach toward successful innovation. The program consists of partnership among the QIIG and its contractors, as well as collaborators from the federal, state, and local levels and private entities. To achieve change, the PfP has introduced incentives and penalties in reimbursement that are aligned with its goals as well as creating programs that focus on reducing hospital-acquired illnesses and injuries and subsequent readmissions.
The authors recognize the essential role of hospital executives in collaboration with the PfP. Considering the many demands on healthcare leaders, they propose that a systems approach is required to achieve real and sustainable improvement. Some methods they support are described below.
“Declare bold aims; make strong, public commitments; and expect the same from your partners.”
Patient and Community Engagement
The PfP encourages healthcare executives to listen to and share openly with their patients and community. Opportunities for exchange and honest communication improve trust between parties and foster the development of a more patient-centered culture.
Making the Rounds
Leaders who make daily or weekly rounds, visiting patients and frontline staff, will learn more about the workings of their organizations while communicating a commitment to those in their care. PfP recognizes that a workforce who feels heard and valued will produce better results for their patients.
True to its name and mission, PfP values and promotes the power of partnerships. PfP welcomes collaboration with organizations aligned to the mission of improved patient safety and believes in the old adage “strength in numbers.” For instance, the authors suggest that an initiative incorporating diverse hospital departments like Nursing, IT and Environmental Services together might achieve more than one could accomplish alone. “Aligning toward a common goal fosters synchronized communications, leverages broader perspectives, and promotes a higher likelihood of success,” they write. “Declare bold aims; make strong, public commitments; and expect the same from your partners.”