Alameda Health System (AHS) is leading the way in quality improvements by implementing a range of innovate programs to better serve our diverse patients and communities.

At the 2022 Quality Incentive Program (QIP) Annual Conference, hosted by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), four AHS senior leaders recently presented some of these programs and best practices that are raising the bar on quality.

The presentation topics included: implementing electronic patient communication co-presented by Director of Innovation and Experience Holly Garcia, and Medical Director of Ambulatory Health Outcomes Dr. Natalie Curtis; utilizing COVID-19 vaccine clinics to address overdue health screenings co-presented by Dr. Curtis and Clinical Pharmacy Manager Eric Mahone; and implementing a COVID-19 vaccination program in emergency departments (ED) presented by Director of Acute Care Health Outcomes and ED Attending Physician at Highland Hospital Dr. Evan Rusoja.

Collectively, the presentations illustrated how AHS is advancing quality in care delivery. Quality improvements are critical to improving outcomes and health equity for our most vulnerable and underserved populations.

One of the ways AHS is moving the needle on quality is the implementation of Well Health that enables two-way communication via text, phone and email to patients in English, Spanish and Chinese.  It allows for appointment reminders reducing no-shows and soliciting patient feedback. “Well Health positively impacts health outcomes by utilizing technology that integrates data from out electronic health record (EHR) to empower and support patients and providers,” shared Garcia.

Another innovative quality practice presented by Dr. Curtis and Mahone began during the pandemic, was when a patient arrived for a COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine staff would check to see if the patient had any pending labs or screenings and would then direct them to go to the lab.  Called “max-packing,” staff began bulk ordering labs to eliminate repeat visits, increase safety and optimize the patient experience. “We were able to address health care gaps outside of a primary care visit setting,” said Dr. Curtis.  She shared that it’s important to consider every in-person encounter as an opportunity to advance patients’ health and wellness.

In addition, standing up the first COVID-19 vaccine clinics was a big undertaking at AHS that included an innovative approach to utilizing the EDs for vaccinating patients. Dr. Rusoja shared, “The journey to implementation was a tremendous collaborative effort across the organization with some daunting challenges including the creation of new workflows and protocols in the ED.”

As soon as the vaccine was made available, multiple providers from the ED contacted the AHS vaccine task force led by Dr. Mini Swift, vice president of population health and to ask how they could help to vaccinate patients.

Even though this was a tremendous undertaking for the ED, Pharmacy teams and many others, “The question on everyone’s mind was not if but when could we start?” said Dr. Rusoja. As a result, AHS started vaccinating patients earlier than most other health care systems in the Bay Area and were one of the first in the country to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in the ED.

“We put patients’ lives first in everything we do,” said Dr. Rusoja. At AHS, we work together to provide the best care available to all members of our community every day. Making the vaccine available to all is one way we were able to fulfill that promise.”

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