Health Care

Forum focuses on high-quality health care

Ensuring high-quality care in a changing health care field was the theme of a forum offered by the Topeka-based Kansas Foundation for Medical Care on Thursday.

The event drew about 150 health care professionals, administrators and support staff to the Wichita Marriott.

The foundation, which has been around for about 35 years, is a nonprofit organization that contracts with the state and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and works with health care providers to improve the use of health information technology and quality of health care, according to its website.

This is the first time in three years the organization has held the quality forum, said Ken Mishler, president and CEO of the foundations.

Recent contract changes with the government included a greater shift toward educating health care providers, Mishler said.

“This is our opportunity to spread what we’ve learned and introduce new ideas to a larger audience,” he said.

“The focus is of this meeting is to ask, ‘What can we do today? What can we instill into our individual providers that will improve the care we’re delivering in the future to prevent patient misadventures, and how can we improve health care?’ ”

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser addressed the changing health care environment as the Affordable Care Act and other changes are being phased in.

Martie Ross, an attorney with Pershing Yoakley and Associates in Kansas City, discussed the new provider payment models for quality measures under the Affordable Care Act. She told attendees that as quality managers, they can help move their organization from the expense side to the profit side because the government is moving toward reimbursing providers based on the quality of care that they give instead of the quantity.

“When you start introducing programs like Value Based Purchasing and hospital readmission rates. you have moved from the expense side to the profit side,” Ross said.

“Now you become critical elements in the financial success in your organization because it’s your skill set and ability to work with the nursing staff and medical staff and administrators to affect policy change to monitor practices.”

Ross cited a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that said hospitals make more money when there are surgical complications since they can bill Medicare for additional charges and readmissions.

“Our system rewards bad practices (But) the system is changing. Reimbursement will soon be driven by the fact that we cannot afford these complications,” she said.

Another speaker, Patricia Skolnik, founder and director of Citizens for Patient Safety, recounted the journey with their 22-year-old son who eventually died after what the family believes was an unnecessary brain surgery following a seizure.

Afternoon breakout sessions included talks on the use of antipsychotic medications, electronic health records and privacy and community engagement.