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Hospitals & Health Systems: Building a Center of Excellence

In today’s era of innovation and technology, patients are demanding more for less when it comes to healthcare. With more resources than ever at their fingertips, patients have the power to choose hospitals with the best reputation, and are willing to travel near and far to receive the best care. In addition, payers are strategically selecting networks where members will receive high quality care while reducing costs for specialized procedures. With that being said, in order for healthcare organizations to have a fighting chance to stand out in such a crowded space, building a Center of Excellence hospital is one of the most strategic ways to grow your hospital’s reputation among payers and individuals looking for a reliable provider.

The importance of improving your hospital’s reputation

Advancing care delivery is one powerful way to stand out above competitors, while ensuring that your patients are receiving the highest level of value-based care from their providers throughout the duration of their healthcare journey. Hospitals that successfully demonstrate value-based care and recovery from a patient’s homes by leveraging innovative digital care tools are likely to be recognized by payers and employers, such as the Employers Center of Excellence Network (ECEN).

Becoming a Center of Excellence participant empowers providers to make improvements in efficacy and experience by reducing variations in care and total costs.  When hospitals and health systems join CoE networks, large employers encourage members to use the designated sites for a specific procedure, otherwise, they likely will pay out of pocket.

Hospitals become designated health centers for a large population of employees working for massive enterprises like Walmart, yet are still capable of  delivering the same level of specialized care.  These are the major contributors to the immediate boost in reputation the organization experiences. In fact, Purchaser Business Group on Health states that since its launch, the ECEN received very positive reviews from employers and patients alike, with 98% of patients recommending the program.

Exhibit 1

Ranked #1 best hospital in San Diego and #11 for orthopedics in the US, download this Scripps case study to learn how to they leveraged scalable patient engagement technology to improve hospital reputation and keep their Center of Excellence status.

How Scripps earned and maintained center of excellence status

What does it take to become a Center of Excellence?

Although we will dive deeper in this article about actionable ways to become a COE site, below is a quick summary of the main criteria hospitals must possess to be participants.

How to build a Center of Excellence site:

  1. Must possess very high-quality indicator
  2. Must foster a culture of following evidence-based guidelines and, as a result, perform surgeries only when necessary
  3. Must structure their surgeons’ compensation so that they are not incentivized to do surgery strictly based on money, but rather what’s the most appropriate care for each individual patient

We have created a strategic guide that includes the following:

  • List of current hospitals and health systems that are a Center of Excellence participants
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • How to capture patient surveys to boost reputation
  • How Force helps our clients earn and maintain their CoE status

List of hospital Center of Excellence sites organized by procedure types:

Exhibit 2

List of hospital Center of Excellence sites organized by procedure types

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are Centers of Excellence?

  • The term Centers of Excellence is used broadly throughout the healthcare industry.  Within the health system, this does not refer to a universal certification or licensing process but established expertise in a specific disease or field in medicine. While there is no single definition or approach for a CoE across the United States, there are two commonalities; they are health systems and hospitals made up of:
    • Highly skilled experts dedicated to specific therapeutic areas and who are often at the forefront of innovation in their field
    • Provide highly specialized treatment, procedures, and/or surgeries for complex conditions

Who establishes a Center of Excellence?

  • Journal of Clinical Pathways states that many CoEs are created by stakeholders without a mandate from an outside institution. CoEs may be established by a specialty professional society, government programs, or a consumer advocacy group to focus on improving health care within a specific disease state.

What can an organization be recognized for?

  • Within the scope of total hip + knee surgery and related procedures, organizations can be recognized as a CoE by the Total Hip + Knee Replacement Program (HKRP) for initial diagnostics services, surgical services, and therapies related to hip and knee replacement care.
  • For the  Blue Distinction Specialty Care Program, providers are recognized for their expertise in delivering specialty care with cost efficiency. There are two levels of distinction: Blue Distinction Centers and Blue Distinction Centers+.  There is a long list of specialty procedures that providers can be disguised for including procedures like bariatric surgery, knee and hip replacement, spine surgery, and more. For more information, here is a guide for BCBS Program Selection Criteria for Knee and Hip Replacement.

How does travel play a role in being a COE?

  • There are multiple ways that travel plays a role in being a CoE. Patients travel near and far for special procedures.  In order for the organization to be able to provide the best possible care and for the patient to receive the best possible outcome and patient experience, hospitals must have scalable digital technologies to support the care team throughout the episode.
  • On the other hand, employers that have direct contracts with healthcare providers, like Walmart, provide plans that allot allowance for travel, lodging and others expenses for the plan member and a caregiver.

How does specific patient engagement technology play a role in being or becoming a COE participant?

  • By implementing a scalable patient engagement technology which intelligently prescribes video-based clinical content, automates support for more streamlined PROMs collection, and provides actionable analytics to support evidence-based best practices across care teams, our clients are able to obtain and maintain their status as COE participants.

Who is an example of employers that have contracted directly with healthcare systems?

  • HealthcareDrive reports that Walmart, a full-risk business,  influences cost of care by encouraging specialists to provide appropriate treatment through bundled payments in a value-based payment program. This allows Walmart to have a greater influence on costs.

Why is online reputation important to organizations?

  • Health systems and providers need to manage their online reputation and see the value of it if they're going to be more successful than their competitors. There is ample evidence supporting the fact that the modern consumer utilizes online reviews before making important decisions, especially when it comes to healthcare.  The evidence suggests that brand trust and positive reviews are directly correlated. In addition, since the Quality Payment Program (QPP) was institutionalized, patient satisfaction and patient experience surveys have molded most payment models, and results are displayed publicly by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

How will being a Center of Excellence participant impact market share?

  • Market share in healthcare has made a significant shift towards value-based care.  CoEs will have a huge advantage by being able to deliver better care for less, digitally. It is vital to leverage a scalable patient engagement and data collection platform as a marketing tool to promote your organization to purchasers of healthcare.

Patient Experience Surveys

In a study from 2020, BrightLocal conducted research to see how different industries use customer reviews.  It was determined that within the medical and healthcare industry, 89% of customers look at reviews, and 87% of customers believe reviews are essential to making a decision with regard to their care. They also found that healthcare industry reviews  take first place for being the most important to consumers.  The leading factor to this statistic is that medical procedures are expensive, therefore, there are high stakes to  choose the provider that is best for each individual.

Importance of patient feedback

Utilizing patient engagement platforms, like the comprehensive tool Force offers, can have a positive impact on patient reviews, and a rapid ability to surface current gaps in care for quality organizational improvement. In an era where patient satisfaction and outcomes are tied to reimbursement with value-based care, understanding and increasing these areas is essential.

Exhibit 3

improve hospital reputation with online reviews

Patient satisfaction survey software

So, how does our patient engagement software actually encourage patients to leave online reviews?  At the end of each episode, the recovered patients receive a survey to rate their overall satisfaction from the point of the procedure, all the way to the end of their episode. This survey is launched at the 90-day mark, post-op.If patients report"very satisfied," that triggers an email that asks them to leave a review at a site chosen by the team during implementation (Healthgrades, Vitals, Google, etc). The collection rate  of online reviews are incredibly impressive, as you can see in the exhibit below for a study we conducted

Exhibit 4

In this study, we took a sample of 16 of our providers at 4 different hospital systems that had over 10 review site ratings with a score increase of >0. The most commonly used review site was Healthgrades. Other popular review sites include Vitals, Reputation, RateMDs, Google, Yelp, and WebMD. At baseline, providers had a total of 602 reviews. As of March 30, 2020, providers had a total of 1,301 reviews.

How to Earn and Maintain Center of Excellence Status with Force

Based on the list of basic criteria to become a CoE participant, Force offers innovative digital solutions to support our client:

1. Remote digital care for rural patients

Many patients who live in remote, rural areas need to travel substantial distances just to have their surgery. To become a Center of Excellence site, remote digital care and monitoring is a necessity for this patient population who are unable to visit the physical office for routine pre- and post-op appointments in person. Having a proven, data-driven technology partner like Force to connect patient and  providers is paramount for any CoE.

2. Data collection and Registry Submission

Each and every CoE  has strict data and reporting requirements, including functional and quality of life PROM forms. Force seamlessly collects all core functional and QoL PROMs and submits Level III data to AAOS registries on your behalf. The time spent manually collecting and submitting this data is put back into the hands of the provider, giving care teams time to allocate to a patient’s recovery.

3. Patient education

A tremendous amount of provider time is spent educating patients undergoing surgery at a CoE so the patient and care partner can be informed of everything they need to know to avoid complications, so readmissions and costs can remain low. Force education modules and care instructions scale provider time spent re-educating this patient population.

4. Patient satisfaction

Successful procedures along with the tools patients are given during their care to stay educated and connected with digital platforms like Force is the formula for true patient satisfaction. Happy patients will want to share their results on review sites (and tell their friends about their experience).

Exhibit 5

Surgical Review Corporation recently released this study, showing the benefits that medical professionals are experiencing from achieving and maintaining their accreditation.

Correlation between CoE’s and increased hospital reputation

Click to learn more about how Northwell Achieved a List of Advanced Certification Sites with Technology

Join thousands of healthcare executives, orthopedic surgeons, and care team members who trust Force as their digital care partner.

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