The Acute Care Division of Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS) provides high quality care at 25 hospitals in California, Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Washington, DC.
When Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS) acquired its first acute care hospital in 1979, it followed its basic mission: "Provide superior quality care that patients recommend to family and friends."
Thirty-five years later, the Acute Care Division of UHS continues to follow that mission as it works to enhance the quality of care it offers, increase patient safety and build patient satisfaction. To achieve those goals, the division has begun a number of quality improvement programs that include virtually all areas of hospital operations.
Advanced technology, for example, is an essential element of providing high quality care and an excellent patient experience. The company recently completed the installation of the first phase of UHS FUSION, an electronic information system that gives physicians, nurses and other staff members at all the division’s acute care hospitals immediate access to medical records, lab results and images. Phase II of UHS FUSION is now underway and and will bring additional capabilities to medical and nursing staffs, including computerized physician order entry to eliminate handwritten notes and reduce the possibility of error, integration with biomedical devices so that a patient’s medical information is automatically downloaded into his or her electronic health record, and bar code medication that helps ensure that patients receive the correct medication and dose at the correct time.
Process Improvement Brings Success
While advanced technology provides additional capabilities, it is equally important that every member of a hospital’s staff knows how to use it most effectively, and that they follow established best practices for the unit in which they are working. The Acute Care Division created a process improvement program that carefully examines every aspect of a unit’s operations, including physical layout, patient flow and staff procedures, then takes that information and uses it to refine processes and procedures to help improve quality and efficiency.
For example, patients who go to the emergency rooms at the five Valley Health System hospitals in Las Vegas now have significantly shorter wait times to get the care they need for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries. As a result of that program, patient volume in the emergency departments there is up, inpatient admissions from the emergency department has increased and the number of people who come to the emergency department but leave without being seen by a healthcare professional has decreased by nearly 40 percent.
Changing The Physician-Hospital Relationship
The relationship between physicians and hospitals continues to evolve and the Acute Care Division continues to pursue opportunities for new ways to work with physicians and other healthcare professionals and share the rewards of providing high quality patient care.
UHS continued to increase the number of physicians it employs through its Independence Physician Management (IPM) subsidiary. By partnering with physicians, IPM takes responsibility for business office operations, managed care contracting, revenue cycle management and marketing. That leaves physicians to concentrate on providing patients with quality care and improved patient outcomes and satisfaction, which in turn results in higher reimbursements for the practice and more satisfied customers.
The company also created a Physician Relationship Management (PRM) group that works with primary care and non-hospital-based physicians in the community to help them streamline operations, identify new opportunities, manage costs and increase quality of care, in addition to other information or support the physician may need.
The division’s Clinical Integration program has continued to grow as it established a number of physician-led quality improvement groups. In those groups, physicians from a number of specialties identify key quality measures that they want to improve, and then work together to achieve those goals of measurable quality improvement and cost reduction.
Responding to Trends and Challenges
Acute care is in transformation. The need for extended hospital stays is constantly being reduced as more procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis. The Acute Care Division of UHS is assessing a number of ventures that will help the company meet those needs, including ambulatory surgery centers and free-standing emergency departments.
The healthcare industry is in the midst of great change but no matter what form those changes take, the Acute Care Division of UHS is prepared to meet those challenges. The company continues to pursue a number of quality improvement programs to continue its commitment to provide superior quality services to every community that it serves.