Using Effective Strategies to Ensure Safety & Quality to Battle the Opioid Crisis

By Dustin Miranda, CSSBB | Consultant | October 15, 2019

America’s healthcare industry receives a great deal of attention for a variety of issues, policy changes, red tape regulations, and calls for reform. However, while all those conversations are going on, the men and women who form the foundation of our healthcare industry are focused on improving quality of care, reducing patient ailments, and minimizing costs.

As our healthcare model moves toward integrated care and value-based payment models in order to make quality care more attainable, now is the time to address the how and the strategy of such a large endeavor, specifically as these shifts affect top priorities in healthcare.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) committed to 16 Strategic Initiatives that are designed to address the most pressing needs of the nation’s population as a whole. Two dominating initiatives are “ensuring safety and quality” and “fighting the opioid epidemic.”

In order to achieve the goals of these initiatives, we must begin by addressing the bedrock of successful transformation: strategy, planning, and coordinated implementation.

At John Lynch & Associates, our specialty is strategy consulting and precise, mission-driven implementation. Today, we will take a look at how two of CMS’s prevailing initiatives – ensuring safety and quality, and fighting the opioid crisis – can be made maximally successful through strategic operations.

Ensuring Safety & Quality

According to the published CMS initiative, “With a focus on better patient health outcomes, CMS is holding providers accountable for providing safe and effective care, while minimizing administrative burden to ensure clinicians can spend more time with patients.”

Arguably the largest part of ensuring the success of this initiative is data tracking, analyses, and reporting. However, it is not enough to simply report on the metrics and meet regulatory requirements. Rather, we at John Lynch & Associates firmly believe that healthcare organizations owe it to their patient populations to take it a step further by determining what the data means for the organization.

For example, to ensure quality care, an organization must critically examine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is really driving improvement. If the goals are to improve patient care, reduce the number of ailments that people have, and reduce the cost of healthcare at the same time, we must compare treatment pathways to determine which are achieving those goals most efficiently.

Not only is it critical to treat the whole person, but also healthcare organizations must treat themselves by transforming how they provide that care. One way in which this can be achieved is by utilizing the gathered information to measure if evidenced-based delivery methods are effective on a small subset of patients. This data can help drive larger organizational changes.

In order to drive impactful changes, we must leverage the information we have to find the proven tools and techniques to make sure that patients are getting the best care possible and healthcare organizations are treating patients safely and to the highest quality possible.

Fighting the Opioid Crisis

In addition to ensuring safety and quality, we and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are committed to combating precise public health concerns, such as the opioid crisis.

In order to design, test, improve, and implement strategies to remedy specific ailments, programs must be tested on a small-scale, analyzed, and optimized before being rolled out nationwide so that the entire population can feel the change we all hope to create.

By implementing initiatives in this way – with small, focused roll-outs and analyzing tracked metrics to identify cause and effect, as well as areas of improvement – we can begin to tackle another of CMS’s strategic initiatives: fighting the opioid epidemic.

If ever there were a more important – and exceedingly challenging – issue to track, it is the opioid crisis. At John Lynch & Associates, we have developed a 5-phase approach to meeting health initiatives:

1. Define the goal.
2. Measure the outcome.
3. Assess for success.
4. Improve the implementation.
5. Control for extraneous variables to maintain success and consistency.

Because the opioid crisis is a battle that must be fought on numerous fronts – from regulating prescriptions to monitoring refills to tracking patient treatment and care to assessing for abuse or improvement – healthcare organizations must implement a functional level strategy at each point of contact with patients at risk of opioid misuse.

With a functional level strategy, each department must develop action plans and goals that align and support the overall organizational strategy. At John Lynch & Associates, we build strategies with department leaders to achieve the desired outcomes want from daily operations.

With a functional level strategy and a 5-phase approach, healthcare organizations can, in a very real way, contribute to the CMS’s strategic initiative of fighting the opioid crisis.

As healthcare professionals, our duty is to ensure the safety of patients, constantly improve the quality of care, and combat negative health trends with data-informed strategy.

If you are looking for support in bringing strategy to your organization’s operations, contact us today.

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