Quality of Life Health Services, Inc.Quality of Life Health Services, Inc.

Message from the CEO

Last year was marked by numerous achievements, but there is still work to be done if Quality of Life is to offer premium health care laced with caring for others. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of premium is “a high value in excess of what is normally or usually expected.” This fits with the vision statement of the organization which anticipates that Quality of Life will meet or exceed the expectations of the customers, staff and the community. So, premium care is the best of the best! Because of the shift in the health care system from quantity-based care to value-based care, health care operations must change to remain relevant and successful. Quality of Life must continue to communicate its values and deliver a compelling experience in patient care that will show patients that we care. So over the next year, our goal is to provide premium care laced with a sense of caring for others.

As we look at the success of the organization, one might ask – why change at all? Quality of Life appears to be making advancements and experiencing growth. But, the change is necessary because the external systems and payment structure in health care is changing drastically, and Quality of Life must adapt. Quality of Life has traditionally been paid by the number of visits and tests ordered on a fee-for-service basis. Under the new systems, payments are transitioning to a system based on the value of the care delivered. This value-based reimbursement system has totally changed the typical model of health care reimbursement. The changes are actually an exciting advancement, because the improvements are promoting excellence in the delivery of care by promoting better care at a lower cost. The importance of making changes then becomes urgent for Quality of Life, as those providers and organizations that cannot achieve the quality measures required by third-party payers will receive a lower reimbursement or even financial penalties. While some payers will use a shared savings payment system, with incentives to providers and organizations that function at the highest level, Quality of Life must take advantage of all these incentives to remain financially viable. Shared savings arrangements are relatively new and each payer uses a different mechanism for tracking reduced spending for a defined patient population, so to prepare for this change, Quality of Life must become more advanced and proactive in its tracking of performance.

Some of our plans for the future are to effectively manage shared savings programs to maximize reimbursement. Our health center is going to have to manage shared savings contracts with expertise to qualify for every possible bonus. Profitable management of these contracts not only gets shared savings payments, but it also improves quality and lowers costs. Second, our plan is to reduce operating costs to deliver care more efficiently and reduce waste. Any savings from the streamlining of our operations and the elimination of waste in our system has a positive financial impact on our organization. So it is in Quality of Life’s best interest to develop a keen understanding of the organization’s cost structure in detail, analyzing all cost and reducing every category of waste. Another part of our plan is to increase the number of patients served. As Quality of Life improves quality, eliminates waste and reduces costs, more patients will be attracted to our health centers. Our vision is similar to one in the movie “Field of Dreams,” where the premise was “if we build it, they will come.” If Quality of Life builds a quality system of care, the patients will come. The payers will also recognize our health center as a top performer and will include our sites in their networks, and patients will acknowledge Quality of Life as a high-performing organization and seek out our health centers as a medical home.

The goal of achieving premium care is also consistent with HRSA’s triple aim, which is to improve the patient’s experience in health care; to improve the health of populations; and, to reduce the cost of care. As an organization receiving fifteen (15) million dollars in federal funding, our goal is to be consistent with the objectives of our funding entity. Our achievements must coincide with the expectations of our funding entity to continue to successfully secure federal funding. There is urgency in establishing premium care, as financial wizard Warren Buffett says, “Your Premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get business.” Moving in the direction of achieving premium care is critical, but another key element in the process is not forgetting our underlying principle of “people caring about people.”

As residents in the local communities turn to our Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) as their preferred provider of care, our centers must adopt a patient-centered and coordinated approach to balancing the complex health center needs of a growing patient population while ensuring excellent customer service. Customer service in the health care setting centers around the patient experience. It is an approach that inspires trust and leads to the development of meaningful relationships among all who are involved in providing care. Understanding and providing excellent customer service is an essential component of culturally competent and responsive quality care. Maintaining consistency in how patients are welcomed and treated by staff can help to ease confusion about how the health system works and fears associated with providing personal information. Customer service can mean the difference between a health center being recognized as a provider of choice or as a provider of last resort within the community.

Effective delivery of customer service depends upon equal participation from all health center staff, and a shared recognition that this approach is a priority for the organization. Implementing a customer service approach to care takes time and a dedicated effort at the individual, program and organizational levels. It is critical to sustain a patient-centered approach to care that shows that we care about our patients. In order for our health centers to provide a positive customer service experience, there must be a deeper understanding of what customer service is, the needs of health center customers, strategies to practice good customer service and methods to prioritize customer service in the health center. This is the only way that our staff can really show patients that we care. The way the patient feels about how care is being delivered is a key indicator of success. As Maya Angelou stated, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When people walk out the doors of our health centers, let’s have them thinking that premium care laced with a sense of caring about others was achieved. By doing so, the organization will meet all its goals and our health care team can be proud of the achievement.