In healthcare, providers never stop searching for ways to improve. At PeaceHealth, the implementation of our new Marshall Steele Joint Replacement program is an example of this endless desire to be better, in an effort to improve the quality of care and outcomes and continue to bring medical breakthroughs unimaginable just a few years ago.
In the early 1970s, a patient receiving a new hip would routinely remain in the hospital until their wound had fully healed – a process that could take weeks. By the late 1980s, improvements in the process had reduced the length to seven-to-10 days. By the mid-1990s, new innovations had reduced the hospital admission time to an unheard of two-to-three days. Now, in 2016, select patients can have a new hip or knee installed in the morning, and sleep in their own bed that same night.
Speed, of course, is not the primary goal, as it must go hand-in-hand with a corresponding increase in quality of care, patient mobility and xreduction of costs. In July, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s Joint Replacement team implemented a program based on the excellent work of renowned orthopedic surgeon Marshall Steele, MD. The program embraces innovative surgical methods that allow patients to get back on their feet quicker, with fewer post-surgical complications and hospital readmissions. After just three months, our Marshall Steele program is demonstrating very good results.
The program incorporates a lot of little ideas that all add up to something big. Surgeons are trained to perform their operations using smaller incisions, promoting more rapid healing. Anesthesiologists are encouraged to move away from the use of powerful narcotics, relying more on targeted nerve blocks. Patients move through the joint replacement process in groups, allowing them to form supportive bonds that help tremendously in the important rehabilitation phase of recovery.
Our data shows clearly that our Marshall Steele initiative is a great success, as our patients are seeing improvement in all target areas – shorter stays, lower complication rates and enhanced quality of care. Our rehabilitation therapists are seeing patients getting back on their feet and regaining normal functions much quicker than before.
In addition to the superior physical results patients are seeing, the program is also reducing the overall cost of healthcare. Across the nation, more patients are now enrolling in high deductible health plans, leading to an increasing patient focus on costs. Patients who have a great outcome from their joint replacement procedure while also seeing a reduction in costs are reporting the highest patient satisfaction scores.
The Marshall Steele joint replacement program is an example of a mindset we must maintain in healthcare. Although something might be working satisfactorily, we must remind ourselves, “If it ain’t broke, figure out how to make it even better.”
Kevin Adams is the director of Specialty Service Lines at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver.