Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Raines: Louisiana healthcare ranking can be improved with better systems and more reporting

by BIZ Magazine

In Louisiana, we are proud to have a distinguished body of healthcare professionals and providers. Our hospitals and physicians regularly receive high rankings and top awards. Our researchers are not only respected but well-funded.

Given such commendations, it raises eyebrows that a recent study ranked Louisiana 5th to last in a study that compared the quality of healthcare received by U.S. residents.

With such an illustrious medical community, why isn’t the state’s overall health reflecting the same?

The study by WalletHub, the personal finance website, compared 50 states and the District of Columbia across 44 metrics including healthcare costs, access, and outcomes. Louisiana ranked 47th out of fifty-one states in terms of outcomes.

It is undeniable that high incidences of obesity, cancer, and heart disease present formidable challenges to our medical professionals and achieving positive outcomes. However, while external factors cannot always be influenced, it is crucial for healthcare providers to optimize their internal systems. A key element of this is ensuring that patients, once within the medical infrastructure, are protected from preventable safety events.

“Health outcomes” measure a change in the health status of an individual or a group which can be attributable to intervention. Safety events often influence outcomes – be it an incorrect diagnosis, a medication error, or even environmental factors like slippery hospital floors. Research shows that these events often arise because of flawed systems rather than provider negligence.

The solution is clear: Improve the system, fix the problem.

Technology presents a valuable tool in improving health outcomes. Comprehensive patient safety software solutions are now available, offering real-time incident and event reporting – which is proven to prevent safety events that prolong patient care and decrease patient satisfaction.

Previously, such reporting was an end-of-shift task, making it susceptible to lapses in memory or details. Today’s innovations permit both medical staff and patients to report safety concerns and potential hazards in environments of care instantaneously. Such timely reporting can prompt immediate remedial action, also known as preventive action, potentially averting harm to patients as well as employees.

Additionally, anonymous reporting tools provide an environment where individuals can voice safety observations and play an active role in improving outcomes and overall quality of care.

For patients, especially those from underserved communities in Louisiana, this technology serves as an empowering tool, giving them an unprecedented voice in their healthcare journey.

Growing up in rural Southeast Louisiana, I personally witnessed how systems can fail poorer communities. A sizable portion of our population – the approximately 880,000 Louisianians living below the poverty line – often do not have access to resources to navigate medical complexities. Nor do they automatically have a family member who can take the day off from work to accompany them to the emergency room, acting as a second set of ears and eyes in the healthcare setting.

Patient and employee safety technology, specifically digital incident reporting tools, can improve outcomes for patients in Louisiana if embraced by healthcare organizations. Modernizing patient and employee safety systems can be transformative, furnishing real-time alerts for healthcare workers and offering invaluable data insights around system gaps and preventing harm.

Modernizing patient and employee safety technology systems across all points of care in Louisiana is paramount for improving outcomes. Recognizing and implementing actions to prevent patient and employee harm has the greatest potential effect on the quality of care delivered in our healthcare system, just as preventative care and wellness efforts slow to stop the progression of disease. It is time we harness modernized technology systems to foster a healthcare culture that reflects the expertise and dedication of our medical community and serves the needs of every resident.

Heidi Raines, best-selling author and Founder and C.E.O. of Performance Health Partners, a national health tech company based in New Orleans that is currently in 35 states and counting. https://www.performancehealthus.com/

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