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New MI Mind CQI Connects Body and Mind to Health in Michigan

New MI Mind CQI Connects Body and Mind to Health in Michigan

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. It claimed nearly 46,000 lives in 2020—a rate 30% higher than two decades ago. More recent data has even shown an increase in the rate of suicide after two years of declining rates. In the state of Michigan, the suicide mortality rate was 14 per 100,000 people.

There are significant opportunities for suicide prevention in primary care and other healthcare settings. Research suggests that patients seek care from primary care physicians within 30 days of establishing a suicide plan or attempting suicide. Furthermore, for every suicide death, there are four hospitalizations and eight emergency department visits (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

In response to this significant health need in Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan partnered with Henry Ford Health to launch a new Collaborative Quality Initiative (CQI) called the Michigan Mental Innovation Network and Program Design (MI Mind). The MI Mind Coordinating Center team brings providers, health systems, and suicide prevention experts together to reach shared goals of improving suicide prevention, care, and access to key behavioral health services in Michigan. Its mission is to engage psychiatrists, psychologists, and primary care physicians in the use of care pathways to reduce suicides in Michigan significantly.

The core program is a collaboration with provider organizations that aims to determine and implement system-specific suicide prevention elements and use data to implement rapid cycle quality improvement processes. MI Mind hopes to assess what levels and characterizations of risk are most urgent and can be addressed by clinicians to inform recommendations for suicide prevention and quality improvement. The MI Mind program will help facilitate enhanced collaboration and referrals among behavioral health and primary care clinicians and promote purposeful screening for suicidal risk. The MI Mind team aims to train clinical staff using the well-established Zero Suicide protocol and anticipates the program will improve patient support, enable more effective and efficient healthcare, and reduce suicide rates.

The MI Mind collaborative is co-led by Program Director Brian Ahmedani, PhD, LCSW, who is internationally recognized for his work in suicide prevention and the Director for the Center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at Henry Ford Health; and Program Director Cathrine Frank, MD, a practicing and board certified psychiatrist widely regarded as the original clinical architect of the Zero Suicide program and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services at Henry Ford Health.

For more information on MI Mind, visit their website, where a variety of easy-to-use, organized tools and materials or available for the benefit of primary care providers, behavioral health professionals, patients, and their loved ones. Providers may also contact the MI Mind Coordinating Center at MiMIND@hfhs.org. In addition, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (previously the Suicide Prevention Lifeline) is available to provide equitable and accessible suicide prevention support across the United States.

As the Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) continues to build its offerings for members, the Coordinating Center is mindful that many other CQIs also partner with hospitals and providers throughout Michigan. MVC posts recurring feature blogs about some of its peer CQIs to showcase their activities and highlight collaborations with MVC. Please reach out to the MVC Coordinating Center with any suggestions or questions.

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Welcoming Fall with Quality Improvement Week

Welcoming Fall with Quality Improvement Week

October brings celebrations of Fall – with pumpkins, trips to the orchard for apple picking, and Halloween - and also Healthcare Quality Week (October 16 – 22), a time for healthcare teams to highlight their efforts to improve the quality of care for patients and families.

Over the years, various improvement methodologies have been applied in healthcare settings to advance the quality of care, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes. Here is a look at some of the models and how they could bring value to your organization.

Six Sigma uses statistics and data analysis to reduce errors and improve processes. Originally developed in the 1980s, Six Sigma has grown over the years into an industry standard, with training and certification programs too. The Six Sigma methodology leverages the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) approach (Figure 1). Following the five steps of DMAIC provides teams with a framework for identifying, addressing, and improving processes.

Figure 1: The Six Sigma DMAIC

Lean, a methodology borrowed from the automobile industry, optimizes an organization’s people, resources, and effort to create value for customers (Figure 2). Lean’s focus is on sustaining improved levels of quality, safety, satisfaction, and morale through a consistent management system. With a goal to promote, evaluate, and implement ongoing process improvements, Lean uses Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to create a visual map of each step in a workflow, allowing teams to identify opportunities for efficiency.

Figure 2: Lean Process Improvement

Additionally, Lean encourages teams to focus on continuous improvement through the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) model, an interactive form of problem-solving used to improve processes and implement change. In a PDCA cycle, teams work through four key steps: 1) identify the problem and create a solution plan (Plan), 2) implement a small-scale test (Do), 3) review the test performance (Check), and 4) decide to adjust or implement the test on a larger scale or adjust (Act/Adjust).

Figure 3: PDCA Cycle

Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management approach for long-term success through customer satisfaction. Originally used by the Naval Air System Command, TQM is based on the principles of behavioral sciences; qualitative and quantitative analysis; economic theories, and process analysis. Using the TQM methodology allows organizations to be customer-focused, with all employees participating and engaging in continual improvement. By utilizing strategy, data, and effective communication, TQM becomes integrated into the organizational culture and activities (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Total Quality Management

With a goal to optimize activities that generate value and reduce waste, the Kaizen approach is based on the belief that continuous, incremental improvement adds up to substantial change over time (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) Principles

The MVC Coordinating Center supports hospital and physician organization members across the state in identifying opportunities for improvement and facilitating a collaborative learning environment for members to exchange best practices. If you are interested in discussing improvement opportunities for your site, please contact the MVC Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com.

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Breastfeeding Awareness Month: The Value of Hospital Initiatives

Breastfeeding Awareness Month: The Value of Hospital Initiatives

As August is National Breastfeeding Month, many healthcare professionals and hospitals across the country are joining in to promote its benefits. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants for the first six months of life and then alongside solids as long as mutually desired by mother and child for two years and beyond. This updated recommendation – the AAP previously recommended breastfeeding through age one and beyond – acknowledges its continued benefits for mother and child.

Many experts suggest that it is an investment in the health of current and future patients, not just a lifestyle choice. In updating its guidance, the AAP clarifies that breastfeeding beyond one year and up to two years has significant benefits to the mother in particular; lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and ovarian cancers are associated with long-term breastfeeding. In breastfeeding infants, some studies indicate there are fewer respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, incidents of severe respiratory disease or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), development of chronic illnesses, doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an additional $3+ billion in medical costs per year can be attributed to low breastfeeding rates.

Breastfeeding is a personal choice – not everyone wants to or even can breastfeed their baby. For those who choose to, however, being successful is linked to the presence of interventions and support along the way. Evidence-based practices at the hospital level are a critical component for establishing breastfeeding.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) cited a systematic review of 38 randomized controlled trials that found short- and long-term increases in breastfeeding as a result of direct assistance and education across a variety of providers and settings in conjunction with structured training for health professionals. The AHRQ and the AAP also both cite increases in breastfeeding initiation and duration as a result of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, which gives a special designation to facilities that successfully complete an assessment and implement the World Health Organization’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

Some of the evidence-based practices linked to higher breastfeeding rates include individualized support in the first few hours and days following birth, rooming-in, and education and support. Additionally, the CDC’s 2018 national survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) identified institutional management as an area with the widest range of scores across all states, with 45 being the lowest state score and 95 the highest state score (see Figure 1). As this category is defined by activities such as nurse training and clinical competency, record keeping, and policy setting, it is clear that some important breastfeeding initiatives extend beyond the maternity ward.

Figure 1. National score and state score ranges for mPINC subdomains in 2018

According to the AAP, there are also significant opportunities for more equitable gains in breastfeeding outcomes. The United States continues to see evidence of disparities in success rates – none of the Healthy People 2020 objectives for breastfeeding were met for non-Hispanic black mothers and infants. The rates for any breastfeeding are approximately 10% lower in non-Hispanic black mothers compared to the average for all races/ethnicities (see Figure 2). Similarly, there are disparities in mothers who are younger than 20, low income, or less educated. Hospitals interested in health equity initiatives likely have an opportunity in the realm of breastfeeding support that accounts for socioeconomic and cultural differences.

Figure 2. Rates of any breastfeeding in U.S. by race/ethnicity

A summary of recommendations, provider implementation tools, and other resources are summarized for healthcare providers in the AHRQ breastfeeding provider fact sheet. In addition, MVC would like to spotlight those members with ongoing or completed improvement efforts around breastfeeding. If your site has achieved the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation or has tools for addressing patient disparities in breastfeeding, please consider sharing your story with the Coordinating Center for the benefit of the larger collaborative.

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Approach to quality improvement unique for rural hospitals

Approach to quality improvement unique for rural hospitals

Quality improvement is a key effort for healthcare systems and a driving force behind the work of the Michigan Value Collaborative. It is also an increasingly complex task with significant implications. Not surprisingly, quality improvement is not a one-size-fits-all approach, with the challenges impacting hospitals varying significantly by factors such as size and location. This variability showcases the importance of sharing tailored resources among Collaborative members.

Critical-access hospitals (CAHs) are the newest type of members to join the Collaborative. They play an important role in the healthcare system by caring for rural patients who might not otherwise have access to inpatient services. Defined as hospitals maintaining no more than 25 acute care beds and located more than 35 miles from the nearest hospital, they are unique in their populations, services, and structure. The majority of their patients would have to drive 30 minutes or more for an alternative hospital, and many communities have no alternative. Their offerings and size are reflective of the communities they serve, with services such as emergency care, inpatient care, laboratory testing, rehabilitation, long-term care, maternity care, home health care, and even primary care. As a result, their capacities, priorities, and challenges differ from those of their larger colleagues, as do their quality improvement efforts.

For example, a 2015 report from the National Quality Forum titled, “Performance Measurement for Rural Low-Volume Providers,” highlights several challenges to quality improvement in rural areas including fewer providers, lack of information technology, and fewer people to share the workload. Furthermore, rural hospitals often don't meet patient volume thresholds that are required for meaningful comparative analyses. It is critical, therefore, that CAH facilities are connected to resources tailored to their circumstances. One such resource is the 2021 Small Rural Hospital Blueprint for Performance Excellence and Value, produced by the National Rural Health Resource Center.

The purpose of this Blueprint is to aid rural hospital leaders in taking a comprehensive systems approach to quality improvement using factors and strategies relevant to small rural hospitals. Guided by the components of the Baldrige Framework that first took hold in healthcare over 20 years ago, the Blueprint outlines typical challenges, factors for success, and relevant resources for seven key inter-linked focus areas (see Figure 1): leadership; strategic planning; patients, partners, and communities; measurement, feedback, and knowledge management; workforce and culture; operations and processes; and impact and outcomes.

Figure 1.

The Blueprint also incorporates specific comments and feedback shared during the Small Rural Hospital Performance Excellence Summit that was held in the spring of 2021. For instance, within the section on leadership, the Blueprint suggests that educating and engaging the CAH’s board members on healthcare trends and issues is a critical factor of success, in large part because board members in rural areas often do not have a healthcare background. A quote from the Summit on this issue reads, “changes in healthcare are complicated, particularly for those that don’t spend all day every day focused on it.” The Blueprint then recommends resources listed in its appendix that are specifically designed for engaging CAH board members. In addition, a full companion resource focused on related strategies and resources for state flex programs is also available.

CAHs are an important piece of the healthcare puzzle and, like their larger colleagues, they stand to benefit significantly from quality improvement efforts. In fact, an October 2019 CMS fact sheet, “CMS Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program Results for Fiscal Year 2020,” looked at adjustments made for Medicare payments to hospitals based on their performance on a set of quality measures. Compared to urban hospitals, rural and smaller hospitals generally performed better in both efficiency and cost reduction, among other areas.

The MVC Coordinating Center established regions within its membership in order to help hospitals network and share practices with their peers. Many of the CAH members within the Collaborative operate in region 1 in the northern parts of the state, and a regional networking event was held for region 1 earlier this week. The Coordinating Center is proud of its diverse membership and continues to encourage facilities and POs to leverage the knowledge of peers who operate in a similar capacity so that, together, members can improve the value of healthcare for Michigan patients. If your facility or PO is utilizing a resource that would benefit the work of a peer institution, please contact the Coordinating Center at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com so it may be shared with the Collaborative.