90% of hospitals improve quality with virtual collaboration

Thanks to a web-based quality improvement collaborative, 90 percent of roughly 150 hospital teams lowered emergency department wait times, curbed readmission rates and made care more accessible for racial and ethnic minorities with standardized data collection on patients, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced yesterday.

Much of the virtual collaboration took place via monthly webinars where industry experts gave advice and collaborative members shared lessons learned with peers, according to RWJF.

"Sharing ideas while improving the quality of care for patients motivated individuals and gave them a new energy which resulted in better teamwork, culture change and system transformation," collaborative director Robert Graham, M.D., said in a statement.

The collaborative also used web-based reports to show quality care data for participating hospitals and physicians, according to a Health Affairs blog post. Such consumer-friendly reports can help patients better healthcare choices, Health Affairs noted.

During the 18-month collaborative, 60 percent of participating hospital teams improved 30-day readmission rates for heart failure patients, avoiding almost 490 readmissions combined. Much of that improvement stemmed from better adherence to heart failure care standards.

Through the quality improvement collaborative, ED wait times dropped by an average of 30 minutes at more than half (55 percent) of the participating hospital teams, allowing more patients to receive timely care, according to the key findings.

Moreover, nearly 95 percent of hospitals standardized how they collect patient self-reported race, ethnicity and language data--which can help them identify and close disparities in care at their organization, according to RWJF.

"We hope these hospitals and teams will continue to test and evaluate their results, making adjustments wherever needed to build upon the gains from this unique initiative and to ensure ongoing progress and sustainability of this important work," Graham said.

To learn more:
- here's the research announcement
- check out the collaborative key findings (.pdf)
- read the Health Affairs blog post