In an effort to improve patient care throughout the National Medical Holding (NMH) system and improve educational opportunities for the students of the Nazarbayev University School of Medicine (NUSOM), a series of assessments were completed during the last quarter of 2014. The goal, according to Jake Collins, manager of strategic planning for UPMC Advisory Services, was to identify opportunities to improve the infrastructure in order to help create a high-touch, patient-centered care delivery model and provide students with the necessary clinical experience.
“NMH is dedicated to continually learning, improving and applying best practices across the system,” Collins emphasizes. “We were there to partner, to be a resource. It was a collective group looking at process.”
“The Kazakhstani caregivers also had a critical eye on their own operations. Together, we were going to determine the right course, the right set of recommendations. Everyone was working together as a team.”
The assessments were completed over a five-week period by UPMC doctors, nurses and administrative staff, with full cooperation and involvement from hundreds of NMH staff members. Observations and recommendations were prepared and shared with NMH two weeks later.
“Changes could ultimately come in the form of new technology, facility design, more clinical training or any number of process adjustments that will help people do their jobs more efficiently,” Collins explains.
“The NMH medical and support staff members were professional, friendly and flexible, and went out of their way to make sure we saw as much as possible,” says Gary Sutkin, MD, a UPMC physician involved in the assessment. “We absolutely did a better assessment because of how well we all worked together,” he added. Dr. Sutkin also noted that the UPMC doctor-nurse teams worked exceptionally well with each professional, complementing each partner’s knowledge and skill set.
Some of the areas examined in the assessment included patient and staff safety, roles and responsibilities of nurses and physicians, coordination of follow-up care, medication administration and delivery, pain management, supply storage and procurement, electronic medical records, and existing and planned educational infrastructure, among many others.
“We were there to ensure systems were in place so each service line could provide the best quality care and that all hospitals could effectively train fellows, residents and rotational medical students,” explains Collins. “That said, we were impressed with the infrastructure already in place, and with the exceptional dedication and training of the staff. We’re primarily talking about small changes or tweaks—and more consistency—across hospitals.”
Hospitals around the globe are confronting many of the same challenges NMH faces, Collins acknowledges. Nurse retention is one example.
“Finding nurses with the right experience is a tough problem anywhere we go,” he says. ”Improving safety also is a high priority at virtually every hospital assessed by UPMC.”
Other recommendations, he says, are more specific to a service line, hospital, the NMH system or the region.
“There are definitely some opportunities for NMH to move toward a more high-touch delivery model,” Collins offers. “We talked a lot about patient experience while in Kazakhstan. NMH is looking at opportunities to improve communication, offer more in the way of pain management, involve families in patient care and aftercare, and seek feedback from patients through standardized surveys.”
NMH leadership will determine what changes will be adopted and when. “Our hope is, through the assessment process, we provided a catalyst to make those changes,” Collins says. “We’ve already seen positive change taking place. The caregivers in Kazakhstan are very engaged with patients. Everyone wants to improve, to reach for the next level of care.”