EXPERTS CONSIDER THE DECISION of two major hospital systems to join the Leapfrog Group to be a significant boost to the group’s effort to improve patient safety.
HCA, Inc. of Nashville, Tennessee and Promina Health System of Atlanta are the first hospital systems to become members of the Leapfrog Group. Both organizations are large employers in their own right. HCA employs 168,000 people and Promina employs 13,000.
By joining the Leapfrog Group, both HCA and Promina sent a clear message to the hospital industry. Reduction of medical areas and measured improvement in the quality of healthcare are goals which must become part of every hospital’s operating philosophy.
“We embraced Leapfrog’s standards from the get-go and opened up a dialogue with them very early on,” stated Robert Ryan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Promina. “It sends a strong message to our employees and patients that we mean business when it comes to quality and safety.”
Spending Money On Quality
Both hospital systems have committed substantial resources to meeting the initial three safety standards specified by the Leapfrog Group. These include: 1) electronic prescription ordering capability; 2) board-certified intensivists in critical care departments; and 3) mini- mum volume requirements for certain high-risk medical procedures. Promina is spending $41 million to implement electronic ordering across its eight hospitals. HCA, with 200 hospitals, is working to implement electronic ordering, but still “has some issues” with the other two Leapfrog criteria.
New Management Methods
THE DARK REPORT was first to predict that the Leapfrog Group was the first major manifestation of an emerging trend. The nation’s largest employers, who are also the nation’s biggest purchasers of healthcare, are proactively working to push healthcare providers to adopt the same quality management principles which they use in their own business. (See TDR, January 28, 2002.)
Hospital laboratory administrators and pathologists tracking this trend will have a competitive advantage. There is much they can do to prepare their laboratory team for management methods which emphasize work processes that eliminate errors while improving quality and lowering costs.
One good “marker” for this unfolding trend are measurement systems introduced by third parties to evaluate the performance of hospitals, physicians, and other providers. The Leapfrog Group is only one example of such measurement efforts. Already there are at least five other credible Web sites that attempt to measure hospital quality, including Hospitaliq.net, Qualitycounts.org, Healthgrades.com, Healthscope.org, Qualitycounts.org, and Healthcarechoices.org.