UNMH to Participate in Quality Improvement Effort

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is RWJF’s signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide models for national reform.

In 2009, RWJF selected the Albuquerque Coalition for Healthcare Quality to lead the local AF4Q effort. In all, 17 regions across the country are participating. Each is spearheading a range of efforts to help doctors, nurses and hospitals measure and improve quality – as well as help consumers understand more about their care so they can be more effective partners in their own health care. The AF4Q Hospital Quality Network includes three separate programs to help hospitals improve how they communicate with diverse patients, reduce the amount of time spent waiting in emergency departments (EDs), or ensure that patients who are discharged from the hospital are not readmitted because they missed important elements of their care.

Albuquerque Hospitals that are participating include:

• Heart Hospital of New Mexico participating in theReducing Readmissionsfocus area

• Lovelace Medical Center participating in theIncreasing Throughputfocus area

• Lovelace Westside Hospital participating in theReducing ReadmissionsandIncreasing Throughputfocus areas

• Lovelace Women’s Hospital participating in theIncreasing Throughputfocus area

• Presbyterian Hospital participating in theReducing ReadmissionsandImproving Language Servicesfocus areas

• University of New Mexico Hospitals participating in theReducing ReadmissionsandImproving Language Servicesfocus areas

Through this project, teams within each hospital will work together to improve the quality and safety of patient care by piloting and testing new quality improvement strategies over an 18-month period. “There is a lot that is right about our local health care system, including good doctors, nurses, hospitals and employers who care about people having access to safe, high-quality health care,” said Patricia Montoya, project director for the Albuquerque Coalition for Healthcare Quality. “However, there are still areas for improvement. Hospital Quality Network and the AF4Q initiative give our local hospitals additional assistance in identifying successful strategies to improve health care quality locally. We are very excited and proud that all of Albuquerque’s acute care hospitals are participating in the HQN program in an effort to systematically improve care in Albuquerque. This is just another way that we are bringing together the people who give care, get care, and pay for care to make lasting changes in our community.”

In the Reducing Readmissions component, four area hospital teams will focus on cardiac care, with the specific goal of reducing readmission rates among heart patients. The initiative will focus on cardiac care because, whether experiencing a heart attack, heart failure or other conditions, the recommended standard of care for cardiac patients is clear and accepted among medical professionals nationwide. In the Increasing Throughput component, three area hospital teams will focus on making their emergency departments more efficient. The process of getting patients through the emergency department in a timely manner, either to be treated and released, or assigned a bed in an appropriate hospital unit, is known as “throughput.” Slow throughput frustrates patients and does not result in the highest-quality care. In theImproving Language Servicescomponent, two area hospital teams will work to improve the care experience for patients who speak or understand limited English. Hospitals will work to ensure that these patients receive their initial assessment and discharge instruction from a qualified language services provider. These two points in care are especially critical for ensuring that quality outcomes result. Led by RWJF, the AF4Q Hospital Quality Network is overseen by the Center for Health Care Quality at The George Washington University Medical Center School of Public Health and Health Services, which serves as the national program office for the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative.

For more information, visitwww.abqhealthcarequality.orgorwww.rwjf.org.# # #The Albuquerque Coalition for Healthcare Qualityis a collaborative project of local area health plans, hospitals, health care providers, consumers, insurers and employers interested in improving the quality of health care in Albuquerque. The Coalition works with these stakeholders to set standards for reporting health care quality measures, to engage patients in actively managing their health and becoming better partners with their health care providers and to implement health care quality improvement efforts. The Albuquerque Coalition for Healthcare Quality is administered by the New Mexico Medical Review Association, New Mexico’s Quality Improvement Organization (QIO). For more information, visit www.abqhealthcarequality.org. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundationfocuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.

Media contacts for the participating hospitals:

• Heart Hospital of New Mexico – Denise Cholewka, 724-2037

• Lovelace Health System – Laurie Volkin, 903-0367

• Presbyterian Hospital – Elizabeth Brophy, 923-6339

• University of New Mexico Hospitals – Luke Frank, 272-3679

Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322

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