Northwest Primary Care: The Importance of Quality Data for Diabetes Screening

September 8, 2015   |  Tags: Blog   |  Tags: Interview , Quality Data , Diabetes Care , QI
Michele Campbell

In health care having good data is an essential part of improvement.  Health care providers that have invested in ensuring that data is collected accurately and consistently have been seeing the benefit reflected in their quality metric scores. To better understand the benefits of having good data, the Institute asked Michele Campbell, the Clinic Project Coordinator for Northwest Primary Care, to talk about the clinic’s process for Diabetes Blood Sugar (HbA1c) and Diabetes Kidney Disease screenings.

I am a data person. I believe that to improve you must have a way to track what you are (or are not) doing; it is essential to really know your strengths and weaknesses.   Northwest Primary Care has worked hard to do this, and from my experience, it is really paying off. While I believe that having good data is a key component, there are many factors that contribute to our success.

First of all, Northwest Primary Care has a great recall system in place. As an example, for screenings, we have a Database Administrator who will pull patient data for all of our providers in any given category. This data is received by the Panel Coordinator, who knows exactly what needs to be addressed when she contacts the patient. This method also allows us to check lab results and schedule appointments with patients based on their needs. We don’t rely on the patient to take the first step because we know they are busy and time can get away from them.  We all know how this works, time flies by and before you know it you’ve missed the date.  We want to make sure that our patients are not “falling between the cracks” with their health care so we take the steps needed to contact them.

We apply this system to all of our screenings, not just diabetic measures. Measures such as bone density, breast cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis are also followed.  And I am anticipating an expansion with our current system to encompass even more.  You cannot underestimate the need for good records and data.

Secondly, we put an emphasis on strong communication within our clinics. We have multiple monthly staff meetings where we go over quality scores, and figure out how to improve scores - even those that are already good.  We have discussions with all our providers to see where we are, what the best practices are, and what we can improve. We update our intranet page every month with how each clinic is doing, and this transparency allows us to put an emphasis on improvement, adaptation, and teamwork.  Health care is a constantly changing field. Even when you have a good process working for you, odds are you will need to change at least one  component of it.  Effective reassessment begets great results.

Our focus on teamwork and communication allows us to work quickly and efficiently.  It doesn’t take months to make a change. The providers are adaptive and willing to work with a new system to make sure it is the best it can be. This involves a lot of trust, which is what reliable data, good communication, and teamwork builds.

What is of ultimate importance to the success of any program?  Teamwork.  Providers, clinical staff, and administrators have to be open to ideas.  They have to be willing to brainstorm together.  They need to know where things stand now, and know where they want them to be – otherwise it is difficult, if not impossible, to get better.  This is a never-ending process and it takes a team challenging themselves to be flexible and willing to change.   Northwest Primary Care is this kind of team.

Michele Campbell is the Clinical Project Coordinator for Northwest Primary Care.  She has a nursing degree from South Carolina with 15 years of nursing experience.  She also has 15 years of program management experience in several fields, including a Guardian ad Litem program  for abused children,  and a Little League program serving 800 children.