The Health Department's State Office of Rural Health and Primary Care manages several federal grants that focus on improving the quality of care that Vermonters receive in hospitals and health care settings. Programs have been developed to help facilities collect, aggregate, and report on health care data measures and design rapid-cycle improvement projects aimed at improving data that has been reported. Partners in these programs include rural hospitals, the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care (VPQHC), and the New England Performance Improvement (NEPI) Initiative.
An ongoing quality improvement focus for the State Office of Rural Health is the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP). The aim of this national initiative is to increase reporting by critical access hospitals, demonstrate value while providing cost-efficient quality care, and ensure small rural hospitals are prepared to meet future rural-relevant quality requirements.
Working with Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care (VPQHC) and others, this project helps individual hospitals to look at their own data, compare their outcomes against peers nationally, and collaborate on quality improvement initiatives to improve outcomes by adopting evidence-based tools and strategies.
MBQIP supports critical access hospitals and small rural hospitals to conduct internal hospital projects to improve quality outcomes in patient satisfaction, patient safety, inpatient services and emergency care. Critical access hospitals are small rural hospitals that have 25 or fewer beds in their facility and provide emergency, critical and other care to Vermonters in their rural service areas.
As required by statute (18 V.S.A. § 9416) the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) contracts with the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care, Inc. (VPQHC) to implement and maintain a statewide health care quality assurance system. Areas of focus include:
Peer Review: facilitates a confidential peer review process to determine whether health care services were professionally indicated and performed in compliance with the applicable standard of care.
Quality Directors/Care Management Directors: facilitates quarterly meetings of hospital Quality Directors and Care Management Directors, providing forums for reviewing healthcare quality metrics, bringing forward improvement initiatives and fostering peer-to-peer learning.
Telehealth & Health Care Quality: hosts educational events, conducts annual analyses on telehealth utilization, researches the evolving evidence-base around telehealth, and provides resources related to changes to telehealth billing/coding, all with the goal of establishing high-quality telehealth services.
Technical Assistance: provides a variety of technical assistance including supporting hospital staff in required National Health Safety Network (NHSN) data submission, and responding to hospital queries, needs and identified concerns.