The banner headline in the photo at left comes from a recent edition of the Chicago Tribune, where a front-page story on the release of Hospital Acquired Conditions (HAC) data shows how patient safety has breached the walls of the healthcare industry and has become a viral topic of sorts, growing increasingly important to the public at large.
Segments of the healthcare industry were not happy with those statistics (which showed 13.5 percent of Medicare patients are harmed by errors), contending the numbers were unreliable because of the way portions of the data were coded. But some of the criticism was muted recently when the HHS announced it was releasing a full $1 billion in funding for safety.
Joel Allison is president and CEO of the acclaimed Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, where the vision statement speaks directly to the need to "give and receive safe, quality, compassionate care." He told us he sees the release of these government dollars as "recognition of what I believe is vital for the future of healthcare delivery - quality and outcomes and commitment."
As he talks with his peers, Allison says there is a clear understanding that the surging path of quality and safety does not merely make sense economically, "but is the right thing to do for patients and their families."
"I've always maintained that safe, quality care is cost-effective care," he adds.
As for the release of the safety data, Allison said he sees it as a teachable moment for hospitals and health systems. "It should cause us to do a better job in our reporting, to make sure we're accurate," he says.
Under the new paradigm, Allison says, quality and safety can help leaders and their staffs flourish.
"I think high-performing healthcare systems and hospitals can become models of transparency and demonstrate the importance of outcomes and safe environments for patients and their families."