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    Healthcare Plan Information

    Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin Patient Safety Initiatives

    Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC) has dedicated itself to organization-wide quality improvement and patient safety programs. To make this happen, two years ago, an electronic medical record (EMR) was launched. This powerful tool has enabled GHC to monitor safety more carefully. For example, a program was designed to decrease the likelihood that errors would occur in the prescribing of medication. This works by having physicians enter prescriptions electronically. One year prior to the introduction of the electronic system, a project was put in place to evaluate the percentage of prescriptions written with the use of abbreviations that are known to be error-prone. A series of educational sessions was then conducted to teach physicians alternative shorthand. This led to a decrease in the frequency with which physicians wrote these error-prone abbreviations on their prescription sheets. With the institution of the EMR, error-prone abbreviations were further decreased because electronic entry eliminated illegibility and created automatic printing of alternatives to these abbreviations. These interventions resulted in a marked decrease in the use of error-prone abbreviations. With these two interventions, the rate of error-prone abbreviations decreased from 27% in the sample taken prior to intervention to 4% in the latest sample with further improvements anticipated as more MDs make use of the EMR.

    In addition to safety projects, there are a number of disease management projects administered through the Quality Improvement Program. These include programs for patients with diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and hypertension. As a result of comprehensive interventions, there have been dramatic improvements in the care of populations of patients with these diagnoses. These improvements have been confirmed by the data that are submitted to Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS), which is the national measurement program that allows GHC to compare itself to other HMOs around the country. GHC has the honor of being named amongst the top 15 HMOs in the country based upon these excellent HEDIS performance measures.

    GHC bases its care upon evidence-based guidelines. These guidelines are sent to all participating physicians and are updated annually or as new information comes to light. Current guidelines are in use for asthma, infertility, the management of abnormal pap smears, treatment of depression in primary care, smoking cessation, diabetes, cholesterol management, esophageal reflux disease, hypertension, secondary prevention of heart diseases, prenatal care, and care of women entering menopause. Physicians attend educational sessions to help them understand and use these guidelines. Some guidelines are about preventive care. Through newsletters and mailings, patients are given extensive information about preventive care recommendations.

    A new and exciting use of the EMR is called MyChart. Through MyChart, patients will now have access to their own health records via a protected website. This will enable them to view their diagnoses, current medications, and lab and X-ray test results. They will be able to communicate with their physician, to schedule appointments and to renew prescriptions all online.

    In summary, Group Health Cooperative has organized its entire health care delivery system to ensure that patients are treated safely and with the highest quality by using the latest health information and technology. Through the use of an electronic medical record, GHC patients benefit from disease management projects, patient safety projects, and access to their own medical records.

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