Annual quality reports show we are on a path of excellence
Superlative star ratings
Based on 2019 performance in eight key quality areas, we earned an average of 4.35 stars on Medicare’s 5-star scale. Nine clinics received 5 stars, five clinics received 4 stars, and three received 3 stars. In all, 82% of Northwest Kidney Centers clinics are rated “above average” or “much above average.”
High patient satisfaction
An outside firm surveys our clinic patients twice a year about their perceptions of the care we provide. Based on results of the 2019 In-Center Hemodialysis Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (ICH-CAHPS) survey, the federal government rated 11 of our clinics. Of rated clinics, 100% received a superior score of 4 or 5 stars for overall patient experience of care.
We consistently lead the nation in clinical performance
Our clinical performance continues to exceed the U.S. average across a range of measured domains: better survival, higher transplantation rates, fewer hospitalizations, better vascular access, and higher flu immunization rates. Dialysis Facility Reports tell us:
✓ Survival rates exceed the nation and new patients do much better
Our mortality rate for all patients is 1% better than the nation. For people in their first year of dialysis it is a remarkable 14% better than the national average. The transition to dialysis can be a vulnerable period. Nationally, new patients have worse survival than longer-term patients. Our new patients have better survival rates. We believe this is due to access to nephrology doctors, preparation before starting dialysis and our focus on a smooth adjustment during the critical first year on dialysis.
✓ Many more transplants
Our kidney transplant rate is higher than the national average. Kidney transplant is the best treatment option for eligible individuals. In 2019 we celebrated 86 kidney transplants in our patients. We provide guidance to patients and families throughout the process, from initially qualifying to celebrating when they receive a transplant. The demand for kidney transplant exceeds available organs.
✓ Fewer hospitalizations
In 2019, our patients had 12% fewer hospital admissions than the national average. Through better care coordination and helping people with kidney disease live well, we strive to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations. Furthermore, by reducing preventable hospitalizations, we help to reduce total cost of health care.
✓ Effective, safe blood access
The gold standard for hemodialysis blood access is a fistula. The alternative is a hemodialysis catheter, which carries an increased chance of infection. We increase fistula use. In 2019, 69% of our patients had a fistula, compared to 63% nationwide.
✓ Protection from the flu
Patients with kidney disease are especially vulnerable to influenza. A total of 80% of our patients were vaccinated for influenza by December 31, 2018 compared to 73% for the rest of the country.
✓ Knowledge is power when facing kidney failure
That’s why we invest in chronic kidney disease outreach, offering free classes to people with kidney disease as well as their family members. Our Choices class covers treatment options, including home dialysis and transplant. Last year about 40% of all new patients starting dialysis at Northwest Kidney Centers had received Choices education. We have expanded Choices class locations to multiple clinics. Our goal is for everyone to have this class preparation before starting dialysis.
In 2019, 401 individuals with serious kidney problems attended Choices classes to prepare for treatment down the road, if needed. We urge attendance at Choices because better outcomes result – more patients start dialysis with a permanent access in place, they choose home dialysis more often, and they are more likely to start dialysis treatment in the outpatient setting instead of in a hospital.
Getting better all the time
There’s always room to do things better and we aim for continuous improvement. We are working to lower dialysis-related infections, better coordinate care after a hospital experience, and reach more people with pre-dialysis education.