|National Roundtable of Urban Hospital Chief Executive Officers: (L-R) John Palmer, Antionette Smith Epps, Alan Channing, Lynda Curtis, Wright Lassiter, Patricia Gabow, Jose Sanchez, Richard Daines, George Hernandez, Jo Ivy Boufford
Low flu vaccination rates, high rates of cervical cancer, HIV, asthma and diabetes were among the troubling health disparities discussed last month by national health leaders at HHC's Urban Health Conference. The sixth annual event attracted more than 250 participants -- including CEOs from safety net hospitals in Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, Denver, San Antonio, New Orleans and New York - who shared priorities, strategies and compared common solutions to address these persistent health challenges.
Conference keynote speaker, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines, outlined a number of state policies that could help close healthcare disparity gaps.
"Rather than a complex system of care that must be 'navigated' by patients, we want a system that automatically provides coordinated care and which guides patients through the system," Daines said.
Dr. Daines discussed plans to increase Medicaid reimbursements to providers who demonstrate better health services with improved statistics on key healthcare indicators. He also emphasized the vital importance of the type of robust information technology (IT) that HHC facilities are developing to fight the fragmentation of the healthcare that can lead to poor outcomes.
According to the latest data from the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), HHC's facilities continue to rank above state and national averages on many of the key healthcare indicators referred to by Dr. Daines, such as care provided for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients, and surgical infection prevention. HHC invests more than $100 million annually to implement outstanding electronic medical record technology that is equaled by fewer than 10 percent of the nation's hospitals.
The opening session of the conference featured a distinguished panel of hospital chief executives from across the nation, moderated by Jo Ivy Boufford, President of the New York Academy of Medicine and former HHC President. Hospital leaders focused on how they have improved efficiency through computer technology, increased screening rates through health education outreach, and confirmed their value in the community by making their quality data transparent to the public. Bellevue CEO Lynda Curtis shared multiple strategies to improve effective communication with multilingual patients through robust translation and interpretation services.
Special presentations in the conference included an IT overview of the electronic innovations for which HHC's Generations Plus/Northern Manhattan Network, which includes Lincoln, Harlem and Metropolitan Hospitals, won the prestigious 2006 Nicholas Davies Award. Other presentations showed innovative treatment methods being used at HHC hospitals, such as the successful use of acupuncture with chemical dependency patients, and safe alternatives to insulin treatment for pregnant diabetic patients.
Nutrition in infant care, improving cancer screening, and providing culturally appropriate care to a diverse and fast-growing multi-lingual immigrant community, were among other goals and strategies shared by conference participants.