North Carolina IQ Forum participants identify challenges, opportunities in health care

Participants at the North Carolina IQ Forum (from left): William L. Roper, MD, MPH; Hugh J. Donohue, MD, MHA, FACS; Dr. Weissler; Brian P. Goldstein, MD, MBA, FACP; Russell M. Howerton, MD, FACS; Dr.  Farrell;  Anthony A. Meyer, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCS; Dr. Hoyt; Richard H. Feins, MD, FACS

Participants at the North Carolina IQ Forum (from left): William L. Roper, MD, MPH; Hugh J. Donohue, MD, MHA, FACS; Dr. Weissler; Brian P. Goldstein, MD, MBA, FACP; Russell M. Howerton, MD, FACS; Dr.  Farrell;  Anthony A. Meyer, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCS; Dr. Hoyt; Richard H. Feins, MD, FACS

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) hosted the ACS Surgical Health Care Quality Forum North Carolina on February 19, one in a series of state-specific forums designed to encourage local participation in the national discussion of methods for improving health care quality in the U.S. Participants in this 16th stop on the College’s Inspiring Quality (IQ) Tour, which began in 2011, focused on ways to improve patient safety and reduce costs.

Cohosting the event, which took place at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, were Timothy M. Farrell, MD, FACS, President of the North Carolina Chapter of the ACS and professor of surgery, division of gastrointestinal surgery, UNC School of Medicine; and Mark C. Weissler, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair of the ACS Board of Regents and Joseph P. Riddle Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery and division chief of head and neck oncology, UNC Neurosciences Hospital.

The forum featured a panel of health care leaders who discussed the political realities of improving the nation’s health care system, as well as the importance of collaborating and using proven programs to increase the value of health care. Forum speakers underscored the importance of quality from a broad policy and public health perspective, but also shared tangible solutions at the delivery level that measurably improve patient safety and outcomes.

“With our strong health systems and commitment to research and development, North Carolina is well positioned to be a leader in the new health care provider economy, and that includes thinking about how we harness advances to create better health outcomes,” said keynote speaker Rep. David Price (D-NC). “Going forward, policymakers cannot focus solely on improving health care accessibility. Efforts to improve quality, such as those developed by the ACS, must go hand-in-hand with promoting expanded access.”

Speakers from UNC Hospitals and the UNC Health Care System discussed programs that have helped them achieve quality improvement, including the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®), which provides reliable surgical data to more than 500 hospitals and pinpoints areas for improvement.

“Progress in health care quality will come from organizations that are willing to challenge their own outcomes and learn from others,” said keynote speaker William L. Roper, MD, MPH, dean of the school of medicine, vice-chancellor for medical affairs, and chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System. “Accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical facilities, and greater integration will lead to enhanced care that is safer, more cost-effective, and better for patients overall. By working together, health care organizations can identify solutions to quality issues, and achieve better outcomes for patients.”

David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, ACS Executive Director, added, “Institutions that really commit to improving quality can have a dramatic effect on patient outcomes. For example, hospitals that have standardized their processes, are accountable for performance, use the right data, and have engagement at all levels have helped the country lower overall blood stream infection rates by 45 percent over the past five years.”

Dr. Farrell closed the forum by urging continued collaboration between surgeons, hospital administrators, and payors. “We gathered today to discuss what we have done as a community to improve quality thus far, but there is much more that must be done. Let’s commit to quality measurement using reliable, risk-adjusted data, and to creating an environment where these data can be freely shared across peer institutions to drive the important work of quality improvement.”

Dr. Weissler concluded, “This forum was a unique opportunity to get all the key stakeholders in the room—from health plans to academia, government, and hospitals—and learn from each other about how we can work together toward the same vision and mission of advancing our health care system.”

The full video of the North Carolina forum is available at InspiringQuality.facs.org and on the College’s YouTube channel.

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