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Agnesian HealthCare working collaboratively to enhance patient care
April 18, 2014

Agnesian HealthCare joins other Wisconsin hospitals in working to improve the quality and safety of patient care. A recent quality report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association is showing the effectiveness of hospitals working together to raise quality to even higher standards.

“Agnesian HealthCare is proud to offer high quality care to the community, and always strives to be better so we can ensure the highest value to our patients, residents and their families,” says Barb Knutzen, Agnesian HealthCare vice president of Performance Excellence.

Knutzen says Agnesian HealthCare continually evaluates its quality outcomes, seeking ways to improve, comparing its performance with other healthcare providers across the nation, including top performers.

“We also partner with other healthcare providers that have our same level of dedication to quality patient care,” Knutzen says. “For more than a decade, Wisconsin hospitals have set competitive interests aside and have been working together to share best practices to improve quality. These efforts have been facilitated by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, which has encouraged and fostered practices and initiatives that have led to greater transparency and measureable improvement.”

Agnesian HealthCare worked during the past year, like other hospitals, to reduce urinary tract infections and prevent venous thromboembolism/deep vein thromboembolism (deep blood clots).

Through the expansion of Agnesian’s electronic medical record, nurses now receive an automatic alert to remove a urinary catheter within 24 hours unless otherwise ordered by a physician.   This is considered to be best clinical care.

“We are able to better leverage our electronic medical record to share best practices for all medical conditions, which helps to ensure patients receive the right care at the right time,” Knutzen says. “It helps to create consistency of care for all patients, which helps to enhance quality outcomes.”

The results? Agnesian HealthCare far exceeds the state average in reducing urinary tract infections.

In addition, Agnesian HealthCare has been successful in reducing risks associated with blood clots that form in a patient’s vein. One significant process change now has nurses assessing patients for blood clot risks every day in addition to physician assessments. Again, utilizing the electronic medical record for consistent practices has been instrumental. Agnesian HealthCare leads efforts compared to state averages.

This year, Agnesian HealthCare’s focus has turned attention to reducing hospital patient readmissions. Already currently under national averages, Agnesian HealthCare is evaluating other ways to enhance already positive efforts.

To support this effort, a new service was developed that involves a process of using care navigators. Care navigators are trained nurses and social workers that coordinate a care plan for patients from initial testing to consultation with providers. They focus on educating patients and families, facilitating communication with other physicians, finding appropriate community support and offering aid in insurance matters. This assistance is free; there’s no charge to patients or their insurance companies.

“Care navigators help patients with their concerns, questions and fears, and, more importantly, connect them to the necessary resources they need for the most effective and efficient care,” Knutzen says. “They offer education, support and resources to help patients overcome any barriers that may prevent them from getting the services they need.”

Agnesian HealthCare has also designated resources to help individuals receive timely recommended health screenings or manage their chronic health conditions.  For example, clinicians work with patients who have diabetes to more effectively manage their illness. Following patients closely to help with important lab work and other follow up is ensuring that care is delivered when needed. Another example is to increase compliance with recommended health screenings.  Area women will be receiving phone calls from Medical Imaging staff to schedule important mammograms when due.

“We want to ensure that the care individuals and families are receiving locally is meeting best practices,” Knutzen says. “We are constantly trying to improve our quality outcomes, saving money especially with the high deductibles and co-pays that many people are facing today. We want to bring them value for their healthcare dollar and bring the greatest value a healthcare system can offer.”

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