Notes on quality from around the system

From high-tech advancements like leading-edge heart care, to simple preventions like flu shots, we are improving health care quality throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Here are just a few examples.

Electronic health record launches across sites

Health care qualityMonths of work and an enormous amount of preparation, work flow design, system testing and dedicated training have taken place to enable the launch of a single electronic health record at Aurora. The design and phased roll-out began in 2010 and continued throughout 2011. By the end of the year, 50 percent of Aurora's sites, including Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center and the Aurora Visiting Nurse Association, had been converted to the updated system which will improve efficiency, safety and health care outcomes. The system enables patients' records to travel with them, ensuring consistency across all hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and even home care.

Keeping caregivers well and patients safe

Keeping patients safe from flu and infection is a top priority at all Aurora clinics and hospitals. To keep our caregivers and their families healthy and to help reduce the spread of illness, all Aurora caregivers were required to get flu immunizations for the first time in 2011. Free flu shots and flu mist vaccines were provided to caregivers throughout the system prior to flu season. Free flu shot vouchers were also provided to caregivers for their immediate family members.

By requiring our caregivers to be vaccinated with a safe and effective vaccine, we limit patients' exposure, improve overall community health and reduce sick time due to caregiver or family illness.

Pharmacy offers auto refills and delivery

Consistent use of daily or maintenance medication is critical to managing overall health. But statistics show that 50 percent of patients do not take their medications on a timely basis. In order to ensure that service is convenient and patients receive their maintenance medications when they need them, Aurora Pharmacy has implemented a free Automatic Refill and Mail Order Prescription Service. After a highly successful pilot in 2010, the service was rolled out to all patients and caregivers in 2011. The new simplified process of refilling prescriptions will help patients stay on track and ensure they have easy access to the medications they need.

Aurora cardiac services treats complex conditions

Aurora St. Luke's Cardiac Care Center, led by Jamil Tajik, MD, an internationally recognized expert in treating heart disease, opened at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in June. The services include four new clinics focusing on specific types of heart disease.

Dr. Tajik and his team are dedicated to patients with four highly complex heart conditions: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Marfan syndrome, valvular heart disease and adult congenital heart disease. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is probably the most well known because it is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. The disease affects two people in every 1,000. Marfan syndrome is an inherited connective tissue disorder that may lead to defects of the heart valves and aorta.

The addition of the expanded cardiac services provides the latest advancements in diagnostics and treatment options to our patients with heart conditions.

Wellness starts at home

At Aurora, we believe that wellness starts at home. To provide quality care to our patients, we start with ourselves.

In 2011, we successfully met the criteria to achieve a national Well Workplaces designation by the Wellness Councils of America (WELCOA). The Gold Well Workplace honor is given to organizations that successfully build comprehensive wellness initiatives and are demonstrating documented, concrete outcomes. Aurora's wellness programs take many forms, including initiatives to help caregivers live well, eat better and move more. System-wide initiatives like health risk assessments and free flu immunizations help improve overall health and quality of life.

Aurora Cancer Care adds enhancements

Two new multidisciplinary cancer clinics, one for gastro-intestinal cancers and one for thoracic cancers, have opened at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center. The specialty centers offer treatment planning and recommendations led by medical experts with access to advanced technology resources. The model brings together in one location the many services our patients and their families rely on to manage their illness. One appointment puts patients in touch with a multidisciplinary team of board-certified experts, including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, cancer nurse navigators and other specialties. This approach to care takes some of the stress out of a serious medical condition and helps improve coordination, quality and overall outcomes.

Care Management saves lives, reduces costs

Care Management is our philosophy of improving patient care through prevention, early detection and disease management. In 1995, we started a project to ensure that people with asthma received the best treatment and teaching we could offer. Since then, our program has expanded to 11 additional initiatives that focus on some of today's most common health care conditions, e.g., diabetes, smoking, cholesterol management and obesity.

This focused approach helps to coordinate care across all settings. We help patients take a more active role in their health, keep them out of the hospital and lower overall costs. In 2011, our Care Management initiatives saved 1659 lives and an estimated $35.1 million in health care expense.