Intermountain Healthcare’s network of 23 hospitals and dozens of clinics in Utah and Idaho was featured this month in an extensive New York Times article after President Obama’s description of it as a model of health reform. Logan Pediatrician Michael Visick, who is quoted in the Times story, said Tuesday the national attention is the result of Intermountain’s focus on quality – maintaining and improving it – while not increasing costs. “It’s about holding costs down and getting better care, which is what everybody’s looking for these days,” said Dr. Visick. “We’re involving people at ground level – physicians and nurses and staff members – and we’re looking at processes and asking ‘What can we do better in this particular process?’ We want to figure how to do this better, right from the ground level. And deliver better quality care without increasing costs.” Dr. Visick admits it becomes a large volume of information to be shared across the entire Intermountain system. “The thing that makes it work is that everybody is tied into their own region,” he said. “For example, here in Cache Valley there are a few physician leaders in our group and we’re the ones charged with getting these things out to everybody and we really do it on a person-to-person basis. “These are people recognized for being really good at what they do and they go out and talk to their peers and say ‘How can this work in your office or what can we do differently with the process that will work well for you?’ We are continually trying to refine the process and make things better.” The New York Times story quotes the writings of Hippocrates who argued a physician’s judgment mattered more than any external measurement and that the practice of medicine was long organized accordingly. Visick said Intermountain’s approach confirms there are things to be learned from looking at numbers and an analysis of places that do things well. “If we can meld those numbers and results with the intuition of a physician who has a long experience taking care of patients, giving him the tools he knows will help improve his practice, that is really what we’re after.” Intermountain Healthcare’s rigorous practice of analyzing in order to improve appears to be netting results. “We want to be the best quality organization we can be, providing the highest level of care we can, without costing our customers any more than we need to,” said Dr. Visick.
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