VHA Uses AHRQ's Quality Indicators and Research in Efforts to Improve Patient Care

August 2005

AHRQ research and AHRQ Quality Indicators make up the cornerstone of the efforts of a CEO Work Group for Clinical Excellence to improve patient care. The CEOs, from a select consortium of hospital and health systems that are members of VHA (formerly Voluntary Hospitals of America), have established targets to improve results for heart failure, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), community-acquired pneumonia, and the occurrence of surgical site infections. These VHA members apply the AHRQ information to their own organizations and work with VHA to create evidence-based models that drive performance improvement.

The original CEO Work Group was formed in 2000 and was comprised of 13 VHA hospital systems, which joined forces to standardize and improve AMI care. AHRQ's Quality Indicators helped the group develop its benchmarks to improve the care patients receive after having an AMI.

According to Carolyn Scott, VHA's Senior Director, Clinical Performance, among the key success factors for the project are "the necessity of senior administrative support, the use of clinical champions to lead the program, the establishment of clear and explicit goals, the implementation of timely data feedback, the involvement of nationally known subject-matter experts, and the ability to collaborate with like organizations."

The group's results and methodology were submitted in an abstract to the American Heart Association's Fifth Scientific Forum on Cardiovascular Outcomes and Stroke. The abstract was accepted for presentation, and it was published in the May 2004 issue of Circulation.

Scott notes, "Our group is further elevating our work by setting a goal for 'No Missed Opportunities.' This will help ensure that when a patient enters one of our participating facilities, he/she will get AMI care that is evidence-based. The patients expect and deserve nothing less."

VHA also uses AHRQ information to drive ongoing development of its consumer/patient programs, including: Target Diabetes, StrokeSense, and Women's Heart Advantage. "VHA's consumer clinical experience programs tie directly to the AHRQ mission of helping people make better decisions about health care," says Scott.

VHA is a nationwide network of community-owned health care systems and their physicians. Based in Irving, Texas, and founded in 1977, VHA has more than 2,200 members in 48 states. Approximately 1,400 VHA members are hospitals, including some of the Nation's leading health care institutions, such as Cedars-Sinai Health System, the Mayo Foundation, BJC Health Care, and Yale-New Haven Health Services, among others.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): HCUP-Quality Indicator, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)
Topics(s): Patient Safety, Quality
Geographic Location: National
Implementer: VHA, Inc.
Date: 08/01/2005
Page last reviewed October 2014