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Learning Health Systems and Quality Improvement

Learning Health Systems and Quality Improvement

The mission of the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) is to improve the health of Michigan through sustainable, high-value healthcare with a vision to help provide the right care, at the right time, at the right cost. As part of this, MVC helps its members better understand their performance using robust multi-payer data, customized analytics, and at-the-elbow support. In addition, MVC fosters a collaborative learning environment to enable providers to learn from one another and share best practice. All of this is designed to help members respond to change, drive quality improvement, and improve performance.

Improving performance is often easier said than done – a phenomenon often referred to as the “60.30.10 Challenge”. Following the review of health learning systems in Australia, this phenomenon was identified as a key challenge that the healthcare system has faced for three decades. Despite change and areas for improvement being identified throughout healthcare, only 60% of evidenced based care is provided to patients, 30% of care is identified as waste or duplication, and at least 10% of patients experience adverse events or medical harm. With this in mind, can the current healthcare system embrace the many new technologies and advancements in medicine on the horizon?

While these new advances in technology have the ability to improve care and prolong life, there is conversely an addition of complexity and increased risk with utilizing them. It is important to understand that healthcare systems are complex and typically do not respond in a linear way to change. A collaboration of healthcare providers set up in Australia realized some key activities for improvement   initiatives within health care systems . These activities were included in the setting up of the collaborative known as the Translational Cancer Research Network and involved incentives, resources, administrative support to provide encouragement, collaboration and reduced constraints, data support, and expertise in implementation science. A number of new projects such as increased consumer engagement and improvement in diagnosis for various cancers came out of involvement in this network.

While root-cause analysis has long been used to identify medical failures, this may not be the best method to effectively establish safety protocols to prevent further harm due to the complex pathways within healthcare that are infrequently repeated. Instead, healthcare needs to take a different approach by introducing models of care that promote collaboration, exceed independent specialties, and advocate for combining hospital, primary care, community agencies, and elder care to navigate well-informed patients through evidenced based healthcare pathways along the continuum of care. There is a need to shift the paradigm and learn from what is going well and those that are successful. By spreading good practices across all healthcare systems, allowing healthcare teams to effectively improve processes in real time, and teaching clinicians to manage data and understand continuous improvement methods, a learning system can be developed.

By creating a learning system, efforts to improve care can be better aligned. Drivers of the system include a commitment to improvement, being ready and prepared for change, being aware of the capacity of and barriers to progress, knowledge of implementation strategies, and lastly providing leverage and resources to learning. In addition, data can be utilized by these fluid learning systems to aid patient and clinician decision-making. It is hoped that a flexible system with relevant information and data to make the right decision, and the ability to adjust processes will help to reenergize clinicians, enabling them to provide increasingly appropriate, safer, and higher quality care with less waste.

The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) can help you by providing claims data across 40 different medical and surgical conditions. Additionally, we have regular workgroups that meet to share best practices. If you are interested in custom analytics for your institution, joining a workgroup or want to learn more about what MVC has to offer, please contact the Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.


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Building Resilience

Building Resilience

Following on from last week’s blog discussing burnout in the healthcare profession, this week we look at resilience and how to build it in the workforce, particularly during times of high stress. Resilience can be defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” (Oxford Languages), while the American Psychological Association believe resilience to be “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress”. Due to recent events, resilience among healthcare workers has become a highly publicized topic and is often in the forefront of the news. Currently, everyone has a need to build resiliency and be treated with compassion and empathy.

Although a number of articles have depicted an increase in anxiety, depression and substance use, studies done following other traumatic events such as the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak have shown a common outcome to be long-term resilience in the majority of those impacted rather than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Resilience is not a one size fits all and everybody will respond to an event in their own way. However, taking steps to adapt behavior while struggling and experiencing intense grief, fear or anxiety will impact a person’s resilience. It is continuing to show up and move forward even while facing adversity.

Additionally, resilience is not something one has or not, it is an acquired and learned behavior that is constructed actively and created through dynamic behavioral, cognitive, and environmental processes. Resilience can be cultivated through the influence of individuals and communities. By propagating togetherness and behaviors that are beneficial to others, resilience can be built within a neighborhood and each other.

Building resilience within a community takes individuals, but how can resilience be nurtured within these individuals? In a systematic literature review looking at the factors affecting resilience, the following themes were identified:

  • Influence of individual factors such as a sense of purpose, identifying the need for self-care, and holding a positive outlook
  • Influence of environmental and organizational factors indicated by workplace culture, and including identification and measurement of resilience especially within high-risk groups
  • Individual approaches to professional circumstances covering workload management, work-life balance, social support, and use of coping strategies
  • Educational interventions

Effective educational interventions may include resilience workshops along with cognitive behavioral training, stress reduction programs using mindfulness techniques, and healthcare simulation.

While we continue to undergo challenges and face adversity, it is important we take the time for self-care and also to support work colleagues and neighborhoods to build individual and community resilience. The MVC Coordinating Center is available to support, please feel free to reach out at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com

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Healthcare Burnout and Possible Solutions

Healthcare Burnout and Possible Solutions

More recently than ever, healthcare workers may be faced with the potential for burnout and a decreased quality of life. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines burnout as “a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment”. From the busy work days, to the intense pace and time sensitive pressures, the healthcare environment places individuals at a high risk. All of this has the potential to impact the delivery of high-quality, compassionate care within an institution. The risk for staff to develop burnout may increase as changes to the work environment result in a poor fit for healthcare workers. :

  • Technological advances
  • Compliance with regulatory measures
  • Difficult electronic medical records (EMRs)
  • Issues with insurance coverage and reimbursement
  • Increased volume and patient acuity

In order to help decrease the risk of burnout, a quality improvement project was put into place in a 37-bed ICU between February and June 2019. Registered nurses, medical assistants, and physician assistants were the targeted population. The Mini-Z Burnout survey was given to those participating in the study to assess for factors contributing to burnout, as well as job related stress and job satisfaction. After completing the survey, interventions were put into place in order to address such risks. These interventions included:

  • Identifying scheduling opportunities (e.g. stacking days when possible)
  • Determining special needs for patients while in the ICU setting
  • Identifying staff backup based on acuity of assignments
  • Staff events to foster a positive team culture and increase collaboration

After three months of applying the above interventions, the Mini-Z Burnout survey was administered again. The findings revealed a higher percentage of staff reporting no burnout after the intervention (57.7% vs. 75%). Additionally, “satisfaction with current job” went from 70.6% pre-intervention to 82.8% post intervention. Finally, open ended questions revealed that stressors that still remained focused heavily on staffing and patient ratios. The sustainability and long-term impact of these interventions on preventing burnout continue to be monitored.

Overall, implementing quality improvement initiatives in order to promote staff wellbeing has the potential to impact the delivery of high quality and compassionate care. The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) is committed to helping our collaborative members implement quality improvement projects in order to increase patient and provider satisfaction. If you have any questions or wish to learn more, please reach out to the collaborative at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com