VHA Leadership Conference

Clinical, financial performance are topics at VHA conference

VHA used its recent 25th Annual Leadership Conference in Philadelphia to showcase its new clinical improvement program and recognize members that have excelled in both clinical and financial affairs.

The clinical improvement program, which is part of VHA’s Clinical Improvement Services, gives hospitals tools to improve clinical performance and to rapidly share their findings with peers, according to the organization. VHA serves more than 1,400 non-profit hospitals and more than 21,000 non-acute-care organizations.

The program differs from other clinical improvement programs in that it doesn’t attempt to establish idealized patient care models. “We’ve found there are multiple models of care that will deliver superior clinical results,” Trent Haywood, M.D., chief medical officer, was quoted as saying. “By studying leading practice organizations within VHA, we’ve identified care models that work best in different cultures and different types of organizations.”

The program contains the following elements:

  • Leading Practice BlueprintsTM, which are process maps based on research at top-performing VHA members. VHA currently has 24 blueprints on its member Web site, including acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, pneumonia, pressure ulcers, and hospital-acquired infections.
  • Leading Practices Portal, designed to help hospitals see the gaps between their current performance and leading performers, and provide specific tools to help them close the gap.
  • Rapid Adoption Networks, which are designed to link hospitals with peers on a local level to adapt and adopt Leading Practice Blueprints.
  • Educational series, which provides a multimedia format for access to leading performers and practices.

“Hospital and physician efforts to improve performance have previously been hampered by their limited toolkit, not their lack of effort,” Haywood was quoted as saying. “The traditional performance improvement approach first identifies problems and then uses clinical and engineering principles to attack the problems. The VHA approach first identifies successfully implemented leading practices and then uses social science and design principles to help others implement these leading practices.”

Financial performance and savings
Meanwhile, VHA reported that last year, its members purchased $21.5 billion in supplies through Novation, and $2.4 billion in services through VHA. These figures represent a 3 percent increase in Novation contract purchase volume over the prior year, and a 9.5 percent increase for purchased services volume by VHA members. Revenue increased 7.5 percent, from $555 to $597 million, while operating income increased 8.3 percent, from $280.9 to $304.3 million.

Cash distributions to members decreased 3.3 percent, from $416.3 million in 2006 to $402.4 million in 2007. The reason, according to VHA, was that certain pharmaceutical products under contract ended their patent terms, resulting in the elimination of manufacturer incentives, which are included in cash distributions to members. However, VHA balanced the impact of these lower fees by pushing for lower-than-market pricing on the products themselves, according to the organization.

Patient safety initiative
The VHA Foundation launched the “Health Care SafetyNetwork,” a two-year initiative designed to offer hospital CEOs a forum to learn from peers and patient safety experts about ways to create a culture that emphasizes safety. The VHA Foundation is a non-profit foundation created by VHA Inc. to fund programs in patient safety and disaster relief.

The program will also offer CEOs an online database of leading practices and content on safety issues, including case studies demonstrating how their peers are dealing with patient safety issues, such as sentinel events, managing challenging physicians, and building a culture of safety.

A recent VHA Foundation survey showed that few hospital CEOs feel confident about their facilities’ ability to prevent incidents or respond to them. Specifically, 70 percent of the CEOs agreed that consumer concerns about safety in hospitals are justified. What’s more, just 15 percent strongly agreed that safety improvements are effectively implemented and monitored, and just 20 percent strongly agreed that they are confident when speaking with a patient’s family regarding a patient-safety-related incident.

VHA Leadership Awards
At the conference, VHA recognized 121 hospitals for superior achievements in clinical performance, supply chain management improvement, and community benefit. Of the award-winners, six member organizations won VHA Leadership Awards in more than one category:

  • Allina Hospitals and Clinics, Minneapolis (Supply Chain Management, Clinical Excellence).
  • Cape Cod Healthcare Inc., Hyannis, Mass. (Supply Chain Management, Clinical Excellence).
  • INTEGRIS Health Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla. (Community Benefit, Clinical Excellence).
  • Medcenter One, Bismarck, N.D. (Supply Chain Management, Clinical Excellence).
  • Providence Health & Services, Seattle, Wash. (Community Benefit, Clinical Excellence, Supply Chain Management).
  • Walker Baptist, Jasper, Ala. (Community Benefit, Clinical Excellence, Supply Chain Management).