UW Medicine among 39 systems in U.S. plan to transform care

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UW Medicine among 39 systems in U.S. plan to transform care

Nationwide initiative aims to improve clinical practices and care quality, and reduce cost
Barbara Clements

UW Medicine is one of 39 healthcare collaborative networks that will participate in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative announced today by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

UW Medicine will receive up to $5.5 million for the first year, and then up to $30.2 million over a four-year span to assist clinicians in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

The aim is to improve quality of care, increase patients’ access to information, and spend healthcare dollars more wisely.

“Helping doctors and other healthcare professionals change the way they work is critical to improving quality and spending our healthcare dollars more wisely,” Burwell said.  “These awards will give patients more of the information they need to make informed decisions about their care, and give clinicians access to information and support to improve care coordination and quality outcomes.”

As a Practice Transformation Network, UW Medicine will support more than 6,700 clinicians, with potential impact to more than 1.9 million patients.  Top priorities are coordinating care for patients with chronic conditions and sharing data across practices. The network will train primary- and specialty-care practitioners using a hybrid model of web-based and in-person learning, including on site coaching. 

The network will also deploy targeted programs aimed at reducing hospital readmissions and unnecessary tests and procedures, and healthcare costs.

The UW Medicine initiative was led by Drs. David Flum, professor of surgery, and David Dugdale, professor of medicine.

“Everyone knows something about the healthcare system which they don’t like,” Flum said. “You try to see the doctor, and it’s hard to get an appointment. Tests are lost or repeated.”

The notion of accountable care, and this grant, is targeted at “fixing these things,” he said.

Flum gave examples of programs that will be boosted or begun through the grant.

One project will use  the "big data" of computerized health information  to generate a sort of daily report card for each doctor to help them see where they can tweak the care they are delivering.

"This performance tracking, so common in aviation and other high-risk industries, allows doctors to learn from the thousands of patients with a similar condition treated in the last few months to deliver better care for the patient in front of them,” he said.
Dr. Danielle Lavallee, UW research assistant professor of surgery, said her project will allow clinicians to look at how patients report their health-related quality of life, pain and function related to medical interventions, over time. Such data is not traditionally captured in a systematic and reportable manner. The database will grow as clinicians follow up with patients one or two years into the future, she said.

Another project funded by the grant combines Instagram-like technology with clinician to patient care.

The Mobile Postoperative Wound Evaluator, called mPOWEr, is an app developed by a team at UW Medicine, Harborview and the School of Nursing. It allows patients to transmit pictures of wounds after surgery to their doctors to determine whether follow-up care is needed.

Dr. Heather Evans, a Harborview surgeon, said the idea came about after patients started emailing postoperative photos of their wounds to their surgeons, asking if they looked “normal.” Other patients go directly to the emergency department, and then realize the visit is unnecessary, but only after incurring the costs and inconvenience.

“Surgical site infection is a huge problem for the health care industry, representing the highest cost of all the healthcare-associated infections,” she said. “And it’s the most common reason that patients are readmitted to the hospital after surgery.”
The app will be launched this month in Seattle.

Find additional details here on the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative.