2017-04-20 / Healthy Living

Recent scores put NCH on the right path, but always with room for improvement

Metrics and measures help quantify value. And in health care, we have scores of numbers to help us self-evaluate and maintain transparency. Recently we received important rankings for Collier County’s health as well as for our own NCH safety and finances.

We are in a good position on an excellent pathway, but still and always will have room to improve. These thoughts remind me of my formal medical career and its ongoing feedback and learning opportunities, which resulting in my being able to help others with my newly acquired education and skills.

Similarly, we now are using metrics to improve health on a larger scale.

The 2017 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows Collier County as the second healthiest county in Florida (following St. Johns County south of Jacksonville). The past four years saw us at first, first, fourth and third.

These rankings provide a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. They use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care (see more at www.CountyHealthRankings.org).

In collaboration with local governments, nonprofit organizations, healthcare facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders, we are improving the health for all people in Collier County.

Life expectancy in Collier County continues to improve and is now the best in the America, whereas our nation’s life expectancy is declining. We also are the healthiest and happiest metropolitan statistical area according to the Gallop Healthways Well-Being Index. All of these facts reflect a community where everyone is encouraged to live a longer, happier and healthier life.

The Leapfrog Group measures patient safety and quality, assigning grades every six months to hospitals and health-care systems. The NCH Baker Hospital and our North Naples Hospital received a “B,” which is the same grade as six months ago. We previously received “A” scores and obviously aspire and plan to get back to the top.

The objective metrics for our quality outcomes and processes are excellent and are at the “A” level, but our hospitality metric has opportunity for improvement. We are improving our patient satisfaction scores.

We pledge to honor the trust of our patients by being transparent about our progress and working toward the highest possible standard of patient satisfaction and safety.

Moody’s Investor Service affirms our A2 rating with a stable outlook summarized as follows: “The A2 reflects NCH’s leading and growing market position as a full-service tertiary provider in a demographically favorable primary service area … and a long-standing history of successful fundraising. The rating also reflects favorable operating performance, translating into good debt service coverage, and growing liquidity metrics over the last three years. This is tempered by a high Medicare exposure (59 percent in FY 2016), seasonal volume trends and rising costs related to a nursing shortage.”

These important metrics show strength with opportunity. We will always be on a pathway of improvement, measurement, feedback, process change and more improvement. We believe that haring our report card with those we serve will help everyone live a longer, happier and healthier life. ¦

— Dr. Allen Weiss is president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare System.

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