'We are a team working together for our patients. This is about the patient.'

For many women over 40, each year brings a question from a friend or loved one: "Have you had your breast cancer screening yet?"

They ask because they know it's important. They ask because they know the American Cancer Society recommends it. They ask out of love and because they care.

And so does Riverside Medical Group, which thanks to its quality care efforts to improve patient outcomes across the health system, is reporting great success in its primary care metrics, particularly with breast cancer screenings.

As of Sept. 30, RMG's breast cancer screening rates were 76.8 percent –higher than both state (73.8 percent) and national (73.7 percent) averages.

"This is what the Riverside Care Difference is all about," said Khalid Sheikh, MHA, director of quality for Riverside Medical Group. "The team, the health system, has worked hard to see this happen."

From Oct. 19-25, Riverside Health System isn't just celebrating the quality improvements made across RMG for patients and breast cancer screenings, but it's also joining healthcare providers across the nation in recognizing National Healthcare Quality Week.

The week highlights the influence health care quality professionals have in improving delivery systems and achieving improved patient care outcomes. The National Association of Healthcare Quality fittingly leads the awareness week given that it's the organization charged with sharing knowledge and representing health care quality in all settings and specialty areas.

The theme this year? Quality across the continuum.

Every part of the Riverside Health System has a stake in quality, including Lifelong Health and Riverside Medical Group.

"In RMG we have made a Riverside Care Difference commitment," Sheikh said of the breast cancer, and other screenings.

That commitment, to patients, is much the same as a loved one asking if a recommended health screening is completed. Across RMG, practices use dashboards regularly to track who should be getting a breast cancer screening and when. Practice team members watch to see when patients scheduled for annual screenings are due and contact patients when the results of those screenings are not entered.

Follow-ups come in the form of phone calls, mailed letters and via myHealth eLink.

"We let the patient know that we don't see their annual screening report in their files and ask if they have had one done, even if it's outside the practice," Sheikh said, explaining that the quality measurement isn't about making sure patients see the same doctor all the time. It's about making sure they are taking care of themselves.

"It's not just a provider thing," Sheikh said. "We are a team working together for our patients. This is about the patient."

The primary care metrics and breast cancer screenings continue to improve and this month, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, RMG launched an ability for practices to email patients a reminder about their needed screenings even if they are not registered with myHealth eLink.

While Riverside works to get all patients signed up for myHealth eLink, not all are. For those that do have email addresses on file, though, the follow-ups can be sent there.

It's the Riverside Care Difference promise … across the continuum.

Learn more about Healthcare Quality Week at www.nahq.org/hqw.


Published: October 20, 2014