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Memorial Hermann: High Reliability from Board to Bedside

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Background: In 2006 the Memorial Hermann Health System (MHHS), which includes 12 hospitals, began applying principles embraced by high reliability organizations (HROs). Three factors support its HRO journey: (1) aligned organizational structure with transparent management systems and compressed reporting processes; (2) Rob ust Process Improve ment™ (RPI) with high-reliability interventions; and (3) cultural establishment, sustainment, and evolution.

Methods: The Quality and Safety strategic plan contains three domains, each with a specific set of measures that provide goals for performance: (1) “Clinical Excellence;” (2) “Do No Harm;” and (3) “Saving Lives,” as measured by the Serious Safety Event rate. MHHS uses a uniform approach to performance improvement—RPI, which includes Six Sigma, Lean, and change management, to solve difficult safety and quality problems.

Results: The 9 acute care hospitals provide multiple opportunities to integrate high-reliability interventions and best practices across MHHS. For example, MHHS partnered with the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare in its inaugural project to establish reliable hand hygiene behaviors, which improved MHHS's average hand hygiene compliance rate from 44% to 92% currently. Soon after compliance exceeded 85% at all 12 hospitals, the average rate of central line–associated bloodstream and ventilator-associated pneumonias decreased to essentially zero.

Conclusion: MHHS's size and diversity require a disciplined approach to performance improvement and systemwide achievement of measurable success. The most significant cultural change at MHHS has been the expectation for 100% compliance with evidence-based quality measures and 0% incidence of patient harm.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-06-01

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