Norton Sound Health Corporation raked in the second-highest grant amount statewide through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) annual Health Center Quality Improvement awards. HRSA awarded NSHC $87,248 based on five different improvement categories and named NSHC a National Health Center Quality Leader — one of only three in Alaska.
Two of NSHC’s awards, totaling $11,000, highlight the use of the electronic health record and its ability to generate high quality reports about patients across disciplines, departments and locations. NSHC improved its data collection across the entire patient population, which made reporting much more complete and accurate than when it depended on reports regarding random subsets of patients.
NSHC’s frontline staff and providers are to thank for recognition in the “clinical quality improvers” category, which garnered $21,124. Health centers must have improved 10% of clinical quality measures between 2016 and 2017, which required diligence and documentation around those measures. Some areas of improvement that NSHC noted:
- Weight assessment and counseling for children and adolescents: went from 25.71% to 92.24%
- Adult BMI screening and follow-up: increased from 68.57% to 88.07%
- Percentage of patients with controlled hypertension: increased from 55% to 68.7%
The aforementioned improvements, combined with continued success in screening for cervical cancer, colon cancer, and treating chronic diseases placed NSHC among the nation’s Health Center Quality Leaders, which awarded a $25,124 of the grant. NSHC, City of Seward and Interior Community Health Center were the only three Alaska organizations to receive this recognition.
Finally, NSHC received a $30,000 patient-centered medical home award in recognition of its National Center for Quality Achievement PCMH designation of the Nome Primary Care Clinic. PCMH recognition certifies that a facility meets the high standards of accessible, affordable, high quality care for all patients. PCMH is a model of care that puts patients at the forefront of health care. PCMHs build better relationships between people and their clinical care teams. Research shows that they improve quality, the patient experience and staff satisfaction, while reducing health care costs. A team from the Quality, Primary Care, and Wellness departments led the effort to achieve this recognition status.
Megan Mackiernan, director of Quality Improvement and Risk Management, says NSHC is proud of the recognition because it notes important improvements that can change the lives of people in the region.
“The changes NSHC has made over the past several years with the EHR implementation, PCMH and quality improvement focus are being realized with improved patient outcomes,” she said. “They’re being recognized at a national level for excellence in quality care.”