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Foundation, Health Group Add Hospitals To Quality Initiative
GRAND RAPIDS — The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is providing the Alliance for Health with $1 million over three years plus tactical support for an expansion of quality initiatives to acute care hospitals.
The Alliance for Health will use the funds to measure quality of care for heart patients at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, including an examination of treatment disparities for racial and ethnic minorities. It’s the first step in creating what the foundation hopes will produce health care quality models that can be emulated around the country, said RWJF Senior Program Officer Anne Weiss.
The foundation, building upon relationships with 14 communities nationwide that already have been awarded grants under its Aligning Forces for Quality program, is committing a total of $300 million through 2011 to the Quality/Equality program, Weiss said. About $111 million of the total commitment will be distributed to the participating communities and used to help support their efforts, such as bringing in expert advice, she said. The remainder will go toward developing nationals standards of care, evaluation and communication, she said.
“We have such a fragmented, complicated system, people feel like … ‘I can’t possibly fix this.’ No one entity alone can solve the problem, and it has to be solved at the local level,” Weiss said. “We bring many years of resources and experience, as well as $300 million. We’re confident we can make a difference.”
Zwarensteyn said the Alliance for Health will work with nursing and medical leadership to determine exactly what benchmarks will be used to assess quality of care. Initially the effort will focus on heart failure patients, and then coronary bypass patients, he said.
The program also will build on the work of the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, which has had Dr. Khan Nedd, chairman of the Alliance for Health, chairing its board.
There already is evidence of disparities in health care delivery, said Dr. Greg Forzley, medical director of informatics at Saint Mary’s Health Care and co-chairman of the Alliance for Health’s Health Care Vision 20/20 committee, which is implementing the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants.
“This is just the natural evolution of some of the work he (Nedd) has been doing,” Forzley said. “It embraces and mirrors exactly what we need, how to make sure that population gets the service they need across that continuum of care.”
Last year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designated the Alliance for Health as one of 14 organizations around the country — two of them in Michigan — to receive grants under the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative. The $600,000, three-year grant addresses three areas: Help providers improve their own ability to deliver quality care; help providers measure and publicly report their performances; help patients and consumers understand their role in recognizing and demanding high-quality care.
That grant is focusing on care delivered to diabetics in outpatient settings, such as doctors’ offices. The goal is to gather information about quality indicators, such as the proportion of patients receiving regular blood tests, and make such information public. Information technology plays a major role in gathering the data.
“We’re building on the model that the Alliance has used for years, which is to bring together people who use health care and provide health care and pay for health care to focus on quality,” Zwarensteyn said.