A Decade of Health Assessments in Appalachia

Int J Health Care Qual Assur. 2017 May 8;30(4):312-318. doi: 10.1108/IJHCQA-05-2016-0064.

Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe standardized clinical process of care and quality performance metrics at Roane Medical Center (RMC) and compare data from 2005 to 2015. Design/methodology/approach Information was extracted from a nationwide sample of short-term acute care hospitals using the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) database, evaluating multiple parameters measured at RMC. HQA data from RMC were matched against state and national benchmarks; findings were also compared with similar reports from the same facility in 2005. Findings Information collected by HQA expanded substantially in ten years and queried different parameters over time, thus exact comparisons between 2005 and 2015 cannot be easily calculated. Nevertheless, analysis of process of care data for 2015 placed RMC at or above state- and national-average performance in 64.9 percent (24 of 37) and 56.5 percent (26 of 46) categories, respectively. RMC registered superior process of care scores in heart failure care, pneumonia care, thrombus prevention and care, as well as stroke care. While RMC continues to perform favorably against state and national reference groups, the differences between RMC vs state and RMC vs national averages using current reporting metrics were both statistically smaller in 2015 compared to 2005 ( p<0.05). Research limitations/implications Perhaps the most significant interval health event for the RMC service area since 2005 was a coal ash spill at the nearby Tennessee Valley Authority facility in December 2008. Although reports on environmental and health effects following one of the largest domestic industrial toxin releases reached a number of important conclusions, the consequences for RMC in terms of potential added clinical burden on emergency services and impact on chronic health conditions have not been specifically studied. This could explain data reported on emergency department services at RMC but additional research will be needed to establish causality. Practical implications While tracking of care processes at all US hospitals will be facilitated by refinements in HQA tools, longitudinal evaluations for any specific unit will be more meaningful if the assessment instrument undergoes limited change over time. Social implications Appalachia remains one of several regions in the USA often identified as medically underserved. Hospitals here have confronted the challenge of diminished reimbursement, high expenses, limited staffing and other financial hardships in a variety of ways. Since the last published report on RMC, a particularly severe global recession has placed additional stress on organizations offering crucial health services in the region. Originality/value As a follow-up study to track potential changes which have been registered in the decade 2005-2015, this is the first report to provide original, longitudinal analysis on RMC, an institution operating in a rural and underserved area.

Keywords: Critical access hospital; HQA; Public health; Roane Medical Center; Tennessee.

MeSH terms

  • Appalachian Region
  • Benchmarking / standards
  • Clinical Protocols / standards*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Services / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / standards
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*