This article first appeared in the Rushville Republican on December 26, 2018.
We can say that our healthcare is not just a small, local business that operates all alone, doing whatever we want it to do but how can we prove it? Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would just give us a report card?
Well, now someone has.
2017 was the first year that the Merit-based Incentive Payment System was implemented for Medicare physicians and healthcare providers. This system, known as MIPS, gives care providers the chance to get paid more for keeping their patients safe and healthy. Instead of the pass/fail models of the past, MIPS gives care providers grades. Some care providers are paid less, some are paid the standard rate and others are rewarded with extra pay for a job that is especially well done. Scores taken in 2017 and reported in 2018 indicate that Rush Memorial Hospital care providers are among the top of the class, scoring a 98.26 out of 100 on a national scale.
The first MIPS report card was broken into three categories: Quality, Advancing Care and Improvement Activities.
Quality was the most important category and accounted for half of the MIPS grade. Each MIPS healthcare facility was allowed to identify six areas to measure. RMH focused on healthcare concerns that are particularly important to Rush County: controlling high blood pressure, breast and colorectal cancer screenings, flu immunizations, etc. Rush Memorial was in the top ten percent in five of these categories and in the top 20 percent in one category. Again, these scores were measured on a national scale.
The category of Advancing Care deals with how digital health information is managed and communicated. Digital information is information that is stored electronically. It is crucial in multiple areas. Medication information, for example, must be updated in the computer at each patient visit. This allows every care provider to instantly see what medications a patient has been taking, what medications have been removed or added and what medications have been suspended. Prescriptions must be sent to pharmacies electronically and tied to a national database in order to prevent tampering or abuse. Medical information must be stored digitally and shared among providers so that they can work together to coordinate their efforts. This allows primary caregivers and specialists to work as a team to provide their patients with consistent care.
All providers involved in MIPS must have an annual audit of their electronic medical records. This assessment must be done by an outside auditor, such as Purdue Healthcare Advisors, which is doing the 2018 audit of the RMH electronic medical records. This audit assures that RMH medical records meet industry standards for security and privacy.
In the category of Advancing Care, RMH scored 100%.
The category of Improvement Activities deals with activities chosen by the hospital in order to help improve patient care. For this category, RMH chose to emphasize patient safety and provider practice improvements. The hospital participated in a nationwide patient safety program that concentrated on such issues as preventing patient falls, hospital acquired infections and hospital re-admissions. RMH also participated in a nationwide survey to assess the hospital’s internal culture of patient safety. The goal was to turn every pair of eyes in the hospital towards any possible source of harm to patients. Office workers, cooks, housekeepers and maintenance workers all learned how they could play a role in keeping patients safe.
As part of the Advancing Care category, RMH also participated in the Great Lakes Transformational Practice Network. Through this program, the federal government provided funding for the services of a national consulting firm based out of Chicago working with Purdue University. This firm sends a consultant to RMH twice a year to assess the healthcare providers and make suggestions on “evidence based” practice improvements. “Evidence based” practices are proven best practices that have been identified by systematic outside research. They are the “gold standard” of what is best for patients.
In the category of Advancing Care, RMH scored 100%.
Commenting on the MIPS score at RMH, Deb Hummel, Vice President of Quality and Health Information at RMH said, “The nice thing about MIPS is that all the scores are independently verified by the federal government. The standards we have to meet are the same across the nation. Our MIPS grade isn’t just based on what is best for patients in Rushville or Indiana. It’s based on what is best for patients all over the United States. Scoring above 98% is a rare thing… and we did it.”
RMH CEO Brad Smith is equally proud, “Our staff has been working on quality and safety initiatives for many years. I am so proud that their efforts for our community have received the recognition they deserve.”
So yes, the healthcare at Rush Memorial is local. The hospital is right up the street from the courthouse. But standards of care at RMH are national. The partners the hospital works with to monitor and maintain those standards are national. Rush County patients deserve no less.