Improving care for all patients: St. Elizabeth’s journey to a national 5-star rating

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This content is sponsored by St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

At the end of July, St. Elizabeth announced that it had achieved a nationally recognized 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The journey to this prestigious rating has spanned several years of improvements, dedication, and hard work across multiple departments…all focused on the goal of improving the quality of care for not just patients who receive Medicare or Medicaid but ALL St. Elizabeth patients.

Dr. Jim Horn, one of St. Elizabeth’s Patient Services Officers, helped to spearhead the efforts to reach this 5-star rating through CMS. “Only about ten percent of hospitals get this status and only 438 hospitals in the U.S. have this ranking,” Dr. Horn said. “A majority of hospitals are measured by this system which measures five different domains of care using a specific methodology. To achieve the 5-star rating, the highest an acute hospital can achieve, they measure 46 areas of quality in five major groups – mortality, safety, readmissions, patient experience, and timely care. Measurement time periods for these vary, and some, such as readmissions can span over three years.” 

When the CMS rating was created several years ago, St. Elizabeth was determined to earn it and implemented several strategies to reach their goal. When it came out as a scoring system, we’ve made it our goal or true north for the quality designation we wanted to achieve,” said. Dr. Horn. “Our primary perspective is to limit and ultimately eliminate avoidable events. We looked at our overall care as a hospital system and looked at what we could do to sustain those changes over time. Medicare is a specific sub-population of our patient base and we are not just doing this for Medicare patients but for all the patients we work with. This was about improving care for ALL patients who receive care at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.”

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Yet – the journey did not come without its challenges. “We faced bigger challenges outside of taking care of all the patients that come in our doors. Kentucky has one of the highest smoking rates in the country and has overall poorer social determinants of health. We had to look at the population we serve and figure out how to best help them”, Dr. Horn said. We focused not only on taking care of patients while they are sick but also taking better advantage of our physician network to stress wellness initiatives and appropriate screenings before the patient ever needs care at the hospital.”

St. Elizabeth is prepared to maintain the rating going forward using several different tactics. “We have a robust quality program. We review every event as it happens, and we seek improvements where they can occur”, Dr. Horn said. “We are continuously improving. Our goal is perfection.” 

To learn more about St. Elizabeth Healthcare and its CMS rating, click here.

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