In the 20 years after the Institute of Medicine published To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System
, Wisconsin hospitals and health systems have made great progress, working together to create a safer and more valuable health care system. This progress was not spontaneous. It required focused leadership by the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) Board of Directors, leaders and staff and determined effort by the association’s members.
In 2004, the work to improve the quality and safety of health care went into high gear. Wisconsin, through WHA’s CheckPoint website, became the first state in the nation
to voluntarily report hospital and quality measures. Although CheckPoint is significantly more advanced today than it was at its inception, now including over 50 clinical measures, 128 hospitals, and sweeping changes in 2020, the hard work of quality improvement did not begin and end there.
The Wisconsin Quality Residency Program, which is presented through a partnership between WHA and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, provides a comprehensive curriculum of core quality improvement concepts and leadership essentials instructed by experts in the field. The program was designed to build a solid foundation in the field and a support network for new quality leaders. It is now part of Wisconsin’s history of growing strong health care leaders and equipping its quality professionals with the skills needed to support and promote patient safety and quality of care.
WHA has also for more than three years supported more than 80 Wisconsin hospitals as a member of the Great Lakes Partners for Patients (GLPP). Through the GLPP, WHA helped member hospitals share experiences and knowledge, driving significant improvement in some of the most challenging quality areas. The hospitals participating in the GLPP have improved sepsis care, saving an estimated 500+ lives; substituted alternatives to opioid medications, avoiding more than 1,550 harm events; and implemented best practices to prevent health care associated infections, saving more than $18 million.
WHA also played a key role in the creation of Superior Health Quality Alliance (SHQA), contributing WHA’s skills to support SHQA’s collaborative efforts to drive quality improvement. WHA is present on each of SHQA’s workgroups and its board of directors.
And there have been many other efforts led by WHA or designed and implemented by member hospitals aimed at improving the quality and value of health care in Wisconsin. The list of successes and recognition for this work is long.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recognized the strong performance of Wisconsin hospitals as they deliver high-quality, safe care. CMS’s hospital Value-Based Purchasing program (VBP) gathers results from four categories of quality care and applies monetary incentives and penalties to hospitals based on their performance. Wisconsin’s hospitals consistently perform well in the program. Wisconsin ranked third in the nation in CMS’s Overall Hospital Star Ratings in 2019. The ratings are intended to give consumers an “at-a-glance” indicator of a hospital’s quality and safety.
The federal Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) issues State Snapshot rankings, which consistently rank Wisconsin among the top five-states in the nation overall for health care quality. Wisconsin’s critical access hospitals have been recognized for outstanding quality performance by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.
Reflecting on WHA’s and its members’ dedication to health care quality improvement, WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding said, “High-quality care certainly benefits patients and our communities by keeping our families and neighbors healthy. We also know that high-quality care, including preventing costlier care, translates into positive direct and indirect effects on the workforce by keeping employees healthy, on the job, and productive. Taken together, that’s a Wisconsin advantage.” Borgerding emphasized, “Wisconsin is fortunate to have so many health care professionals dedicated to improving what is already nation-leading care. Always, but this year especially, WHA is proud to represent the hospital and health system community.”