Data doesn’t lie: IWK joins international surgical program

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Recently, IWK Health marked one year of participation in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP)—a program of the American College of Surgeons. The NSQIP is a network of more than 700 hospitals around the world, all sharing data with a goal to improve surgical quality for patients and the health systems they receive care in. And now that includes the IWK.

To continually provide the best care possible for its patients, IWK Health must constantly innovate and improve the quality of its practices. But to have meaningful quality improvement, you need data.

“Data doesn’t lie,” says Rosa Kendall, one of the surgical clinical nurse reviewers at IWK Health. “It will show us our strengths and weaknesses. We can only improve when we know what areas actually need improvement.”

Both Kendall and her colleague Tina Zinck, are the IWK’s reviewers for NSQIP. Together, they collect high quality, reliable, clinical data on surgeries at IWK Health to be submitted to the program. They begin collecting data from pre-admission all the way along to 30 days post-operation. All of this information is submitted to the NSQIP database and analyzed alongside data from hundreds of other centres.

At the other end of the process, Kendall and Zinck received nationally benchmarked, risk-adjusted reports on hospital complication rates and surgical outcomes. They review this data with surgical teams, enhancing the IWK’s ability to zero-in on preventable complications, leading to impactful action including reducing the incidence of surgical site infections and/or complications, and mitigating re-admission rates or returns to operating rooms and the Emergency Department.

“The benefit of belonging to a collaborative such as NSQIP is that it provides an opportunity for IWK Health to evaluate our performance related to surgical care in a detailed and comprehensive manner,” says Jane Palmer, director, quality & patient safety. “It is expected that several quality improvement initiatives will be generated as a result of examining our data which in turn has the potential to reduce health care costs.”

These reduced costs can come from such things as lower rates of hospital readmissions and reduced post-surgical complications. This benefit is all in addition to the ultimate, and most important benefit: improved patient experience.

“The patient experience is arguably the most important part of what we do,” says Kendall. “The goal of surgery is to fix the body, and in turn the overall well-being of the patient. By using both data and patient feedback, we can truly maximize our learnings for our end goal, which is to improve patient care.”

photo by Clothesline Media, 2016