Baptist Health Care Reduces heart attack mortality rate

Photo: Ben Twingley
CARLOS GIESEKEN

In the past year, Baptist Health Care cut by more than half the rate at which heart attack patients died within 30 days after discharge.

Thanks in large part to a collaborative effort across hospital departments, the mortality rate dropped from just under 6.7 percent to 2.41 percent.

Baptist was one of 10 hospitals within the Mayo Clinic Care Network selected by Yale Global Health Leadership Institute to participate in the Leadership Saves Lives initiative.

The selected hospitals were chosen because of the quality of care and the volume of heart attack cases per year, said Erika Linnander, senior technical officer with the GHLI.

Yale provides research about practices that produce higher survival rates. Examples include regular monthly meetings with the Emergency Medical Services staff or pharmacists who round on every patient. Each participating hospital then tailors those practices for best individual fit over a two year time period.

Getting departments to work together can be more challenging than the average person might think, Linnander said.

“They are trained differently. They have different priorities–different ways of thinking about care,” she said. “The reason we put this together is to prospectively shape an organizational culture that allows different folks to talk across departments.”

During a workshop held Tuesday morning, members of Baptist’s four internal work groups shared best practices with each other. Whether it be the pharmacy work group or the one focusing on doctors and nurses, presenters frequently discussed education, standardization of processes and breaking down silos.

The discharge and continuum of care group discussed a discharge checklist they go through when a heart attack patient leaves the hospital. They also spoke about the creation of an easy-to-understand patient workbook that discusses topics like avoiding sodium in food or connecting with cardiac rehabilitation programs in an easy-to-understand format.

“It’s very unusual to get so many chiefs into a room and get this type of collaboration,” said Scott Riley, M.D., an emergency room physician. “Many major companies do this type of approach. This unified team is trying to solve a root cause analysis problem. Now they are stretching it to a much larger process.”

Exceeding the original goal of dropping the mortality rate by three percent is motivating team members, ranging from the department heads down to the front line personnel that have the most contact with patients.

“That’s been very exciting,” said Ray Aycock, M.D., a cardiologist. “It fires up the troops. We see it is working. Let’s see if we can make it even better.”

The initiative’s success could see a larger impact within Baptist and at other hospitals as the same process could be used in pursuit of other goals, said Victor Hall, vice president for cardiovascular services.

“We need a paradigm shift,” he said. “By creating the coalition, we are changing the process of tackling a problem.”

Over the next year of the initiative, Baptist will do outreach to the community through education programs and raising awareness about the impact of lifestyle choices like diet and exercise or being aware of heart attack symptoms and not waiting to go to the emergency room.

Pensacola News Journal