I just heard an excellent presentation here in Copenhagen from Johan Kips, Director of the UZ Leuven, a large hospital in Belgium. (He is seen here before the talk making last minute translations in his PowerPoint slides, English being the lingua franca!) UZ Leuven is the first hospital to get accreditation by the Joint Commission International. Johan views that kind of accreditation as helpful in establishing a culture of continuous quality improvement in the hospital. But most of his talk was how to engage the MDs and other staff in disease specific quality improvements, building on the foundation of a general safety culture to structure the care within each disease. He described both parts working together as adding value, a strategic imperative.
He explained how the medical staff created modules (i.e., clinical pathways) for diagnosis, therapy, rehabilitation, and follow-up for various diseases and physical conditions. Then, using their health information systems, they can follow up on specific patients to see how well these pathways were being followed. In addition, they could link the costs of service lines to the income received for lines, looking for opportunities for cost savings, and then further designing the clinical pathways to be more cost-effective consistent with excellent patient experiences.
Similar approaches were applied to operational systems. Here, for example, is a chart showing the shift in waiting times for a certain set of eye conditions.
All in all, a superb presentation and a great story. In addition, it was presented modestly, with Johan making clear that he and his folks still had a lot to do. He was especially interested in hearing suggestions from the assembled audience.