Editor’s note: In July 2017, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) released Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety—a new manual that is intended to serve as a trusted resource for surgical leaders seeking to improve patient care in their institutions and make quality stick. Each month, the Bulletin highlights some of the salient points made throughout the “red book.”
In recent years, databases established by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and other organizations and government agencies have played an increasingly important role in assessing the quality of care that surgical patients receive. Surgeons need to be able to help their institutional leadership choose which databases and registries will provide the clinically relevant data they need to improve patient care. The red book describes the factors to look for in selecting registries and highlights the capabilities of databases that provide information about surgical care across specialties.
Surgeon leaders also need to be familiar with the tools they can use to interpret the data derived from these registries, including risk-adjusted evaluations and benchmarking, and to drive meaningful change. Indeed, today a range of sophisticated risk-adjustment techniques are available, which allow surgeons to make better evidence-based decisions, often at the point of care.
It is imperative that surgeons participate in the data analysis movement, guiding their institutional decisions about which databases to use, interpreting the data, and determining what steps need to be taken to improve patient care based on data. Surgeons are trained clinical scientists, and if they are given meaningful data about their performance, they will change their practice patterns.
Be sure to read next month’s overview of the red book for insights into the value of participating in quality improvement collaboratives and the use of clinical practice guidelines. Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety is available for $44.95 per copy for orders of nine copies or fewer and $39.95 for orders of 10 or more copies on the ACS website.