Accountable for Your Care

At Sutter Health, our medical professionals partner with each other and their patients to provide high-quality care, while working to keep overall costs down. This is one way we hold ourselves accountable for our patients' entire experience, whether they're receiving a routine checkup or undergoing complex surgery. Another way is by listening to patients and their families and involving them in care and treatment decisions. By continually assessing and improving our services, we're striving to provide high value to each patient.

Federal grant expands program for severely ill patients

Sutter Health received a $13 million Health Care Innovation Award grant in 2012 from the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation to expand the Advanced Illness Management (AIM) ® program throughout our network. The program offers physical and emotional support to patients facing severe chronic illness. Also in 2012, the SCAN Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to transforming health care for seniors, committed to funding a new research project to study AIM for national expansion.

New business center helps improve efficiency

To provide patients with more efficient service within our network of care, we began consolidating several of our administrative functions at a site in Roseville during 2012. Our new Shared Service Center, which opened in early 2013, houses many employees in areas such as billing, finance and human resources. The center will help streamline and standardize the business side of Sutter Health to support our commitment to giving patients the best value for their money. Within five years, we expect to achieve $300 million in annual benefit through improved operational efficiencies.

Adult asthma patients given new option for relief

In 2012, Sutter Health-affiliated Palo Alto Medical Foundation was among the first medical providers nationwide to offer a new minimally invasive treatment for adults with severe asthma. The endoscopic procedure, called bronchial thermoplasty, uses radio frequency energy to relieve asthma symptoms. The procedure also can help reduce asthma attacks that lead to emergency-room visits and missed workdays.

Sutter leaders named to national innovation group

Two Sutter Health leaders were selected in 2012 to participate in a high-profile government agency effort to improve patient care and reduce health care costs nationwide. Participants in the Innovation Advisors Program—created by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—will form partnerships, share knowledge and generate ideas for improvement. They will then test those ideas in their own communities.

Consistent care benefits patients, reduces costs

Doctors across our network continued to collaborate to make our patient care more consistent and affordable, while maintaining or improving quality. They focused on areas such as the most appropriate treatments for ear infections and hypertension and the most appropriate tests to evaluate postmenopausal bleeding. Their work helped us continue to provide high-quality care while reducing costs for care by approximately $32.5 million systemwide from 2009 to November 2012.

Generic prescribing helps patients save

To help patients save at the pharmacy, doctors within our network work closely with patients and their health insurance providers to prescribe generic drugs whenever possible. As a result, prescription drug costs across our network decreased by $13.7 million since 2011, and patients continue to benefit from their medications. Lower costs may encourage patients to fill their prescriptions and follow treatment plans, leading to better medication compliance for chronic conditions, improved health and lower medical bills overall.

Team approach values patients as partners

Sutter Health implemented a systemwide Care Coordination Department as part of a broader effort to help patients better manage their health. Under the program, care teams help hospitalized patients make the transition to home safely and sooner, so they can return more quickly to the activities they love.

Redesigns improve service and empower patients

Behind the scenes at our medical offices, we made improvements in exam-room layouts, supply organization and computer systems. As a result, we reduced waiting times for patients and provided them with online tools to directly schedule their appointments with their primary care doctors and to manage their bills. Also, by extending hours for primary care and medical and surgical specialties, we provided more convenient access to care.