“We recognize that health care has significantly changed because of COVID-19 and want to provide a way for members to see their performance in this current reality.”— David Levine, Vizient senior vice president of data science and methodology

As the pandemic surged across the country in 2020, hospitals shifted their focus almost entirely to COVID-19. The virus forced hospitals to find new ways to balance the time and resources required to care for those patients while maintaining their commitment to hospital-wide performance improvement. In recognition of this challenge, and the heroic efforts of clinicians and other hospital staff, Vizient will take a modified approach to its member awards program for 2021.

As we do each fall, members that participate in Vizient data products including the Clinical Data Base will receive their annual performance scorecard and ranking from Vizient along with objective data and timely, actionable insights for performance improvement. However this year, instead of presenting awards for Quality Leadership Performance, Ambulatory Care Quality and Accountability, Supply Chain Operational Excellence, Supplier Diversity Excellence and Environmentally Preferred Sourcing Excellence to top performers, Vizient will instead celebrate members’ collective success during its 2021 Connections Summit in November (additional information will be available soon).

“We’ve been thoughtful about how the pandemic shifted the attention and focus of our members, obviously in the right direction,” says Beth Godsey, senior vice president of data science and methodology for Vizient. “We want to ensure we’re continuing to provide members with the objective data that gives them insight into their performance while being sensitive and thoughtful about how we showcase and highlight top performers.”

In addition to the scorecard, members will continue to receive a calculator that allows them to evaluate their performance more easily against their peers and set goals for future performance. As we have in the past, Vizient will also offer virtual “office hours” for members to ask staff experts questions about the scorecard data, measurement methodology and aligning performance improvement opportunities with strategic goals.

“These one-on-one sessions provide members with the opportunity to speak with our data science and performance improvement experts to discuss how to leverage their data for improvement,” says David Levine, group senior vice president of data science and methodology for Vizient. “Their scorecard is a living, breathing document designed to engage them more deeply in performance improvement and goal-setting.”

The 2021 scorecard will include data on all patients, including those with COVID-19. Vizient has developed specific risk models to adjust the acuity of COVID-19 patients, as well as those without an official COVID-19 diagnosis who presented with suspected complications from the virus. “We recognize that health care has significantly changed because of COVID-19,” says Levine. “We are sensitive to the big shifts that have occurred, but we still want to provide a way for members to see their performance in this current reality.”

A unique approach to performance measurement and awards

Many recognition and ranking programs across the industry attempt to define and recognize performance excellence. Unlike some programs, which are often based on metrics that may be two or more years old, Vizient’s member rankings are released just three months after the measurement period ends to provide timely, actionable insights. “The rankings are a representation of how members are currently performing, which helps them see whether the current interventions they’ve implemented are effective or not,” adds Levine.

As in years past, the Vizient annual scorecards with rankings will span from July 1 of the previous year through June 30 of the current year and measure clinical quality and supply chain performance reported across relevant domains with members divided into four cohorts. This year will include data surrounding COVID patient populations and COVID related operational activities.

The cohorts ensure that members are compared with similar institutions to enable meaningful peer-to-peer interactions that can lead to improvement. The four cohorts are:

  • Comprehensive academic medical centers that perform a minimum of 25 solid organ transplants, 600 trauma cases or 1,500 acute transfers in from another acute care facility, or 125 combined cardiothoracic and neurosurgery cases
  • Large, specialized complex care medical centers that perform a minimum of 75 combined cardiothoracic and neurosurgery cases and one of the following: 25 solid organ transplants, 600 trauma cases or 1,500 acute transfers in from another acute facility
  • Complex care medical centers which comprise hospitals not meeting the above criteria, but performing between 25 and 75 combined cardiothoracic and neurosurgery cases in a year
  • Community hospitals which do not meet above criteria, excluding critical access and specialty hospitals

Vizient bases its rankings on individual metrics that are meaningful and actionable for providers rather than aggregated metrics. When new metrics are introduced, they are for information purposes only the first year and are not included in scorecards or rankings. The information-only period allows members to review the data to understand their performance and make any needed adjustments.

For example, the total hip and knee complication measure will be for information purposes only in 2021 because Vizient made changes to the measure. This year, the measure’s scope expanded from inpatient-only to include both inpatient and outpatient surgeries to give hospitals a complete picture of performance. The change is in response to the significant shift of total joint replacement procedures to the outpatient setting due to COVID-19, as well as ongoing shifts in site of care that began before the pandemic.

“We continue to adjust the metrics we use to measure performance. We aim to be stable yet dynamic with our program framework,” says Levine. “The program is exclusively for performance improvement, so we lean toward getting members familiar with a new measure, as opposed to just scoring and ranking them.”

While Vizient will not be publicly announcing rankings in 2021, those identified as top performers will be provided with a press release template and marketing guide to use if they want to publicize their rank. “We feel like the approach for 2021 is a nice balance between allowing members to celebrate the great successes they’ve had, but also being sensitive to the challenges and struggles they’ve faced,” adds Godsey.

Published: June 21, 2021