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IHS Quality Program Focuses on Patient-Centered, Safe Health Care

by Susan Anderson, Management Analyst/Improvement Advisor, Improving Patient Care program

This week, IHS recognized National Health Care Quality Week. We focused on the strategic importance of quality and continuous improvement, and commitment to performance excellence.  The IHS quality program aims to ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native people receive the highest quality, patient-centered, safe, and reliable health care through the IHS health care programs.

The IHS quality and Improving Patient Care programs focus on improving quality and safety in the IHS health system. The quality program advises IHS offices on improvement methods and ensures that work related to the quality of the IHS health care program is fully integrated across all levels of the agency and engaged with other Department of Health and Human Services Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  agencies and external partners, including states and other federal agencies.

The Indian Health Service has developed new capabilities to support quality and patient safety in addition to the longstanding Improving Patient Care program, which works with IHS, tribal and urban Indian facilities to build capacity for quality improvement and promote the implementation of the Patient Centered Medical Home model of care, sometimes known as PCMH.

Below are a few of the current IHS quality improvement initiatives:

Connections –a virtual learning community and action-oriented network for Indian health programs to create, share and enhance best practices in health care for American Indian and Alaska Native patients.  Connections strengthen the culture of quality and the capability for continuous quality improvement using innovative learning techniques and approaches.

Innovations Projects – funds awarded to PCMH sites to develop and implement innovative projects that address social determinants of health such as education, transportation, housing or employment.  Last year, Elko Service Unit, in Nevada and the Uintah-Ouray Service Unit, in Ft. Duchesne, Utah, completed the projects related to addressing transportation and literacy social determinants. In August 2018, funds went to projects to the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, Inc. Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  in Milwaukee to address the underuse of comprehensive care elements for people with diabetes in the ambulatory care setting.

Health Care Improvement Professionals Workshop – Develop skilled health care improvement professionals within IHS to equip them with the necessary capability to define, develop, test and implement quality improvement efforts for the agency using quality improvement science training.  Fifteen individuals participate in a nine month training program executing high level improvement projects that will lead the IHS organization into systems level changes in quality improvement.

IPC Webinar Series - Learn the latest news, updates, and metrics about the IPC program to help you reach your goals for advances in quality of care and greater operating efficiencies. IPC webinars are available to federal, tribal and urban Indian organizations.  Visit the Quality Portal and create an account to learn about upcoming webinars.

National Accountability Dashboard for Quality – The National Accountability Dashboard for Quality supports oversight of quality across the IHS health system. Dashboard reporting is completed quarterly and posted on the IHS website. IHS will report data from the 4th quarter of Fiscal Year 2018 in November.

PCMH Measures and Dashboard -- Tracking data in six important categories: immunizations, chronic care and clinical outcomes, other preventive services, patient experience, behavioral health, and population health. This gives care teams and leadership the ability to monitor quality trends and plans quality improvement projects as they work toward PCMH implementation. PCMH measures align with national standards where possible. Reporting systems for the PCMH measures set include the National Data Warehouse and iCare

Partnership with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – CMS and IHS established a partnership to improve the quality and safety in IHS hospitals. One initiative is the Partnership to Advance Tribal Health or PATH. PATH is a group of CMS Quality Improvement Organizations and Healthcare Innovation and Improvement Organizations formed to support IHS quality and safety improvements. This initiative focuses on harm reduction, quality improvement, and improved transitions in care.

Please contact Susan Anderson in the IPC program for any questions you have about the National Healthcare Quality Week or programs.

Related content:

Inpatient Care Program

Quality at IHS

National Accountability Dashboard for Quality

Susan Anderson, Management Analyst/Improvement Advisor, Improving Patient Care program

Susan Anderson, MPA, BA, is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. As a management analyst and improvement advisor for IPC, she identifies best practices and how to adopt them, while conducting analytical and evaluative studies for the program. Anderson also serves as the Contracting Officer Representative (COR) for the IPC program.