Hospitals Do Well In Performance Plan

November 27, 2007
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DETROIT — Ninety Michigan hospitals that participate in a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan program that measures and rewards hospitals for improving and providing optimal care to patients together achieved near perfect scores on two measures for treating patients suffering from heart attacks. Michigan hospitals were compared with the national average of hospitals around the country.

"These scores show we are performing at a much higher rate here in Michigan than the rest of the country. And the bottom line is that heart attack patients can be confident Michigan hospitals are taking the necessary steps to make sure they receive the right care at the right time," said Paul Conlon, Trinity Health senior vice president of clinical quality and patient safety.

According to a news release, the participating hospitals were measured on two critical measures for heart attack care: how often they appropriately dispensed aspirin, and the use of beta blockers on patient arrival and discharge. Aspirin can help keep blood clots from forming and dissolve blood clots that can cause heart attacks. Beta blockers are used to lower blood pressure, treat chest pain (angina) and heart failure.

"The individual heart attack treatment measures for these hospitals reached such high scores that we found it necessary to refocus our efforts," said Robert Milewski, Blues’ senior vice president of contracting and hospital relations. "There really wasn't any further room for improvement in those measures."

Because of the strong results, the Blues and participating hospitals agreed to move the reward program to a new level of measurement called "perfect care," an emerging trend in the health industry. Instead of measuring separate processes of care, the new measurement focuses on the care a patient receives as a whole, measuring whether he or she receives all appropriate components of care. In 2008, all care measures for the program will be scored by the "perfect care" method.

"It's important for patients to know that Michigan hospitals work together to continuously improve patient care,” said Peter Schonfeld, Michigan Health & Hospital Association senior vice president. “And Blue Cross helps make those advancements by cooperatively establishing this program and rewarding achievements.”

The care measure ratings indicate how often a hospital gives recommended care.

 Under the heart attack care measurements that are now retired due to strong performance, Michigan hospitals in the program had performance rates between 95 percent and 97 percent for dispensing aspirin to heart attack patients when they arrived at the hospital, four percentage points higher than the national average. For dispensing aspirin when a patient was discharged, the hospitals achieved rates that were 10 percentage points higher than the closest comparable national average.

For similar measures involving dispensing Beta blockers on arrival, Michigan hospitals in the Blues program achieved performance rates of between 93 and 94 percent, 10 points higher than the national average. The hospitals also achieved a 96 percent performance rate for dispensing beta blockers on discharge, 12 percentage points higher than the closest comparable national average.

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