Sunday, August 2, 2009

World Class Health Care - An Imperative

In appropriating funds for the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Congress determined that the military should receive only “world class healthcare” but did not define the meaning of the term. When the Health Systems Advisory panel of the Defense Health Board described in the previous blog was assembled, it decided that its first order of business was to establish a benchmark for world class. After much discussion, research and debate, a document was prepared and is available at the web site listed below, in Appendix B. Here is a summary of what the panel felt were the key elements of world class.
The principal summary statement would be: A world class facility combines the best of the art and science of medicine in a focused manner, consistently and predictably delivers superior care and value, meaning high quality at a reasonable cost to both patient and society.
World class can be further defined as follows:
“A medical facility achieves the distinction of being considered world class by doing many things in an exceptional manner, including applying evidence-based healthcare principles and practices, along with the latest advances in the biomedical, informatics and engineering sciences; using the most appropriate state of- the-art technologies in an easily accessible and safe healing environment; providing services with adequate numbers of well trained, competent and compassionate caregivers who are attuned to the patient’s, and his or her family’s culture, life experience and needs; providing care in the most condition-appropriate setting with the aim of restoring patients to optimal health and functionality; and being led by skilled and pragmatic visionaries. The practices and processes of a world-class medical facility are models to emulate.”
“A world-class medical facility regularly goes above and beyond compliance with professional, accreditation and certification standards. It has a palpable commitment to excellence. A world-class medical facility has highly-skilled professionals working together with precision and passion as practiced teams within an environment of inquiry and discovery that creates an ambience that inspires trust and communicates confidence. A world-class medical facility constantly envisions what could be and goes beyond the best known medical practice to advance the frontiers of knowledge and pioneer improved processes of care so that the extraordinary becomes ordinary and the exceptional routine.”
The panel further defined all of these issues and those further comments are available at the site below. The critical point to make however is that world-class is not just about buildings, not just about people, not just about technology, not just about specific practices but it is about how all of these and more are interwoven together for the benefit of the patients and the patients’ loved ones in a manner that delivers superior care at a reasonable cost.
These are recommendations that all hospitals [and their boards of trustees] and providers across the country should consider and consider seriously. Nothing less should be acceptable.


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