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America’s Essential Hospitals backs lifesaving services in our communities. Here’s how.

Essential hospitals are unique because of the services they provide and the populations they serve. America’s Essential Hospitals has taken major steps in recent years to more clearly define its members by recognizing the distinctive characteristics they share — including the provision of specialized, high-acuity services, such as trauma and NICU care, and disaster response.

In the inaugural issue of our new online magazine, Walls Down, we tell the human stories behind these lifesaving services and we ask what would happen without such care.

In addition to telling these stories, America’s Essential Hospitals supports this aspect of essential hospitals in a variety of ways.

Action

Part of this work involves ensuring policymakers understand the vital nature of this work and the impact legislation has on access. Essential hospitals are often the sole providers of lifesaving services in a region. Without federal and state support, everyone suffers.

Regulatory decisions, as well, must be guided by a clear understanding of cause and effect. America’s Essential Hospitals provides constant, data-driven feedback to regulators as they work to implement law. Recently, the association has commented on regulation regarding emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare and Medicaid providers, transplant center requirements to ensure continuity of care during an emergency, and emergency department (ED) payment requirements.

Keeping the issues essential hospitals face top of mind with regulators helps protect the viability of essential hospitals and their lifesaving services.

Education

America’s Essential Hospitals helps to spread best practices and spur innovation through a variety of in-person and distance learning events for health care leaders and their staffs. Together, they explore key federal and state health care issues, discover innovative and transformative practices, and hone leadership skills.

Recent in-person workshops and webinars on specialized, lifesaving services have focused on ED capacity and patient and family engagement in the ED, eliminating early elective deliveries (EEDs), and lessons from the front line of storm preparation.

Performance Improvement

The association’s Essential Hospital Engagement Network (EHEN) works with 22 hospitals in 10 states to improve patient safety. Through distance learning and in-person coaching, the EHEN is a hands-on approach to member support.

Part of this work has focused on eliminating EEDs, which reduces NICU days for babies and decreases harm for mother and child. As a result, EHEN hospitals have stayed below the 2 percent EED benchmark given by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

To help disseminate the practices EHEN hospitals are using to increase safety, the association reports on their strategies. EED reports detail the work of University Medical Center of El Paso and Maricopa Integrated Health Systems.

In other NICU work, the EHEN has helped members focus on overall safety for their most fragile patients, as shown in the report, NICU Culture Change Lowers Infection Rates.

Research

Essential Hospitals Institute – the association’s research arm – analyzes data and hospitals’ experiences to expand the evidence base for care that improves quality and efficiency, especially for vulnerable patients.

Recent Institute work that has covered essential hospitals’ lifesaving services includes a report on improving ED throughput and reducing crowding and a survey of member hospital characteristics, including their disproportionate share of trauma and burn care.

Share these stories

The combination of this association work and the emotional storytelling in Walls Down reinforces the unique role essential hospitals play for all of us. Share links to the online magazine, to the data reports, to the webinars – help America’s Essential Hospitals foster an improved understanding of essential hospitals in your community.

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About the Author

Laycox is a former senior writer/editor for America's Essential Hospitals.

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