Mercy Independence Keeping Pneumonia Patients Healthy

March 8, 2013

Mercy Hospital Independence received special recognition recently for its efforts to maintain the health of pneumonia patients and keep them out of the hospital.

 At a recent Mercy Ministry Leadership Team meeting conducted in Rogers, Ark., the Independence facility was spotlighted as having the lowest readmission rates for pneumonia patients of all hospitals in the health system’s four-state service area. Presenting to fellow hospital leaders from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, Mercy Hospital Independence President Eric Ammons shared information on how the hospital has worked collaboratively with local physician providers and area nursing homes to manage patient health after a first admission for pneumonia and prevent future hospitalization.

Brenda Stokes, executive director of Quality Assurance for Mercy Kansas Communities, explained that, in accordance with national standards, each Mercy Hospital sets quality care goals associated with a variety of health conditions, including heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. These include monitoring and reducing the number of times patients are readmitted to the hospital for these same conditions within 30 days of their first hospitalization.

In the performance period monitored from April to October 2012, Mercy Independence reduced its pneumonia readmission rate from 14.58 percent to just 3.3 percent, the lowest rate among the 12 Mercy hospitals reporting during that same time frame.

“Our clinical staff has worked very hard and engaged with physicians and extended care facilities to achieve this success,” Stokes said. “Working collaboratively is the key. It takes a village!”

 Stokes explained that Mercy clinical team members met last October with a community focus group, including leaders from area nursing homes, home health & hospice agencies, as well as assisted living facilities to discuss how to facilitate a smooth transition for patients from the hospital to the next level or venue of care. Various tools were discussed to help caregivers and health care professionals identify early signs of disease  progression, and these tools allow patients to be cared for in the physician’s office rather than as an inpatient in the hospital.   

 Stokes said Mercy co-workers also employ “Teach-back techniques” when conducting education with a patient and/or caregiver to be sure that instructions are understood for how to manage the patient’s care after leaving the hospital. The Teach-back method requires the patient or caregiver to explain the instructions back to the clinical staff and helps identify where more education is needed.  

“Our goal, really, is to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital if possible,” Stokes said. “We use a variety of benchmarks to be sure we measure up and different tools to continually improve our processes.  The end result is better quality of care for our patients.”