A personal touch: Quality Month celebrates improvements for patients, employees

October 28, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Last week, hundreds of faculty, staff and guests came together to recognize the important work being carried out daily to support the organization’s mission of advancing health to serve Michigan and the world.

This year’s Quality Month celebration showcased teams that put a personal touch on quality improvement efforts. Their efforts improve processes at Michigan Medicine — but perhaps more importantly, enhance the daily lives of patients, family members and employees.

Filling a gap

One of the teams featured this year was the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools (RAHS), which embeds Michigan Medicine interdisciplinary professionals in school-based health centers across southeastern Michigan and Genesee County.

The RAHS health centers are staffed by nurse practitioners, clinical social workers, registered dietitians, medical assistants and physicians. They provide youth-centered care, enhance access-to-services and address care gaps.

This year, RAHS has been diligently working on process improvement to increase the number of school-aged children who were being screened for depression and to provide on-site treatment for those identified.

“While our group is always looking at data and health indicators, those aren’t the only things we use to guide our decisions on what our focus should be,” said Angie Spence, director of the program. “Addressing social determinants of health that impact access to health care and essential family necessities is a key to providing comprehensive care.”

In order to hear the current needs of youth, RAHS engages youth advisory councils and a community advisory council, which is comprised of school staff, community members, youth and parents.

“This year, RAHS presented outcomes showcasing a decrease in gaps for follow-up and treatment for youth who were being screened for depression,” Spence said. “With these efforts, screening rates for depression amongst RAHS patients 12 and older went up to 80 percent from the initial approximately 40 percent baseline over the time period.”

For Spence and her team, the improvement was a direct result of working hand-in-hand with members of the community. “It’s incredibly gratifying,” Spence said.

Better communication, better care

At the Dexter Health Center, employees care for more than 150 patients who are Deaf and use American Sign Language. In order to provide the best service possible to those patients, communication gaps needed to be closed.

“With ASL interpreters not always available, we were finding that our front-desk staff and many clinicians were unable to properly communicate with these patients,” said Stacey Babut, manager of the Dexter Health Center. “It caused frustration and was discouraging not only to our patients, but to our employees as well.”

In response, the clinic developed a specialized check-in folder that helps staff identify Deaf patients, created laminated job-aids to improve the check-in and check-out process, and provided ASL training to support staff members.

“It’s been fun to see our efforts pay off,” Babut said.

The team now feels better prepared to care for their patients and 100 percent of Deaf patients recently surveyed shared that Dexter is a comfortable place to receive care.

“It’s extremely rewarding to see the process improvement ideas of our staff come to life,” Babut said. “We have a phenomenal team here. They are invested, and want to make sure that every patient at Dexter feels valued.”

A full day of celebration

RAHS and Dexter were two of more than 80 teams to be highlighted during the poster session at the 21st annual Quality Month celebration.

Also participating were groups from partner organizations Metro Health and MidMichigan Health — and hundreds of participants also attended a patient-led panel presentation and breakout sessions.

Sanjay Saint, M.D., M.P.H., chief of medicine at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the George Dock Professor of Internal Medicine at U-M, gave the day’s keynote presentation. He touched on the importance of teamwork culture in health care and highlighted the organization’s journey to high reliability.

To see all of the posters showcased during this year’s symposium, check out the Quality Department website.

And be sure to save the date for Quality Month 2020. Next year’s symposium will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.

Were you unable to attend Quality Month 2019? Check out the photo gallery above or The Wrap below for a closer look!