MSU HealthTeam commissions outside review to enhance patient safety and quality of care

A state-of-the-art electronic health record system. A patient-friendly web portal. Better tracking of health tests.

These are just three of the advances that the MSU HealthTeam has introduced over the past year to better serve patients. To make sure these improvements are working as well as they can, the HealthTeam is now bringing in a team of experienced experts to conduct a patient safety and quality-of-care review.

“In implementing our new Electronic Health Record (EHR), we made innumerable changes to our processes, which have resulted in many operational improvements,” said Richard Ward, chief executive officer of the MSU HealthTeam. “With the incredible breadth and depth of these changes, it’s time to have a careful outside assessment. We want to ensure that our changes are accomplishing their original intent, and we want to see how we stack up against best practices nationwide.”

A contract with Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory company that helps clients manage risk and optimize benefits, was signed in late July, and recommendations are expected by fall. The review team will focus specifically on policies and procedures in place at MSU, to ensure optimal patient care and reduce risks of adverse healthcare outcomes.

For example, MSU HealthTeam’s new EHR allows healthcare providers to follow up more effectively than before on test orders, from blood panels to MRIs. As part of their evaluation, the reviewers may identify gaps in this tracking system that can be closed.

Or the reviewers may have recommendations to improve how clinical information, such as test results and care summaries, is communicated to patients. Much of this communication will be taking place via the HealthTeam’s new patient web portal, which allows patients to email their healthcare providers, access lab results or get other information from their medical records through a secured connection on the internet, without having to wait for their next medical visit.

External reviews represent a best practice in health care, and are a way to ensure continuous quality improvements. MSU HealthTeam periodically undergoes external reviews of specific clinical policies and workflows.

“With the implementation of the new EHR, the HealthTeam wanted to initiate this comprehensive review to ensure that expected quality and patient safety enhancements are realized,” Ward said.

The MSU HealthTeam comprises the 260 teaching faculty of the Colleges of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine and Nursing. The team provides more than 190,000 patient visits each year at over 40 clinics on campus and throughout the region, serving MSU students as well as patients in the broader community.

In addition to allopathic and osteopathic physicians, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants, the team also includes such allied health professionals as nurses, psychologists, social workers, therapists and nutritionists.