Customer profile:
Middletown Regional

Hospital is recognized for quality efforts with help from SQCpack

SPC software for histograms, control charts and much, much more ...Once again, Middletown Regional Hospital has received national attention for its quality, with a recent commendation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The hospital is one of only a handful in the nation that has received this commendation, along with its JCAHO accreditation, for the third time in a row. In its journey toward continuous improvement of processes, Middletown Regional Hospital has relied on SQCpack for data analysis.

In addition to these prestigious JCAHO commendations, the health care facility was recognized in 1997 as the first recipient of the Ernst A. Codman Award. Codman was a pioneer in the use of data for process improvement in health care organizations. Modern HealthCare Magazine has named Middletown Regional Hospital as a top-100 hospital for 1998 and 1999, based on performance improvement measures, as well.

Employees receive ongoing Statistical Process Control training using SQCpack

Donna Banks, one of the quality management assistants for the hospital, is involved in the organization's efforts to utilize data in making decisions and evaluating processes. Herb Zagarow, Ph.D., serves as consultant to the improvement processes in the hospital, and has led efforts to train staff members in the steps of quality improvement and the use of data. Under his direction, a group of internal facilitators is available to train staff members on an ongoing basis.

One of the ways the hospital has continued to improve, according to PQ Systems trainer Matt Savage, lies in the ongoing training that employees receive.

Since 1995, PQ Systems has provided a number of on-site training seminars to assure that staff members understand statistical process control using SQCpack. By providing the training at the hospital's own facility, more people can take advantage of the learning, with less impact on work schedules.

Data is collected on a variety of measures in the hospital, including records of missed appointments in sports medicine, elapsed time in providing triage, X-ray, and other services, and admitting patients. Among the projects that have been addressed in the improvement process is length of time for payment from insurance companies.

"We saw that there was great variability in the amount of time it took for various insurance providers to pay the hospital for services," Donna Banks, Patient Financial Services Director (no relation to Donna Banks in quality management) says. "By collecting data and going to the provider, we were able to make our case for earlier payment."

Staff uses SPC charts to track test time, C-section rates and more

Hospital staff members also keep track of turnaround time for tests, C-section rates in their nationally acclaimed Family Birth Center, and even specific symptom rates, such as post-surgical nausea. A team has examined data relating to the use of restraints for those who must be confined for their own safety. With Pareto charts and other visual statistical displays, staff members can evaluate the amount of time that patients are restrained and the various reasons for restraining them.

"Hospitals have plenty of data. The point is to collect this data and use it to improve processes," Banks says.

Certainly the awards that it has received demonstrate the hospital's commitment to this concept, but hospital staff members agree that what is more important to them is evidence of clearly improved service to patients and of streamlining of processes. "This is what makes a great hospital," says Donna Banks, Patient Financial Services.