By Patricia Deal

Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center public affairs

A 10-member team from Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center's Population Health Division received the Army Surgeon General's Excalibur Award for its role in saving the lives of 15 women with breast cancer.

In the process, the team developed unique processes to improve health care effectiveness data and information-set metrics and screening.

"This award is testament to the fact that we are making a difference in helping others," said the medical center commander, Col. (Dr.) Steven Braverman, who presented the award to team members in a ceremony Feb. 7. "This is a great program that shows we have made great strides in doing all those population health tasks that are required of us, such as cancer and diabetic screening.

"What was most impressive about the program, in addition to the cost savings realized, was that as a direct result of this program, 15 women were identified with early-stage breast cancer that would have otherwise gone untreated."

The larger medical center interdisciplinary team is composed of members from radiology, surgery, medicine, family medicine, gynecology, pathology, nursing, managed care and information management departments.

They began developing and implementing processes to improve performance in key quality measures in 2005, and targeted breast and colorectal cancer screening processes, and diabetes laboratory results monitoring in 2006 through 2007.

Using that data as the baseline, performance in these quality measures has continued to improve. Performance-based adjustment methodology reimbursement increased 73 percent between May 2009 and 2010 and 15 women were diagnosed with breast cancer through the intervention, according to the nomination narrative.

"What is also noteworthy about this program is that these new interventions are essentially human-resource neutral. Patient identification, order entry and notification processes have been done by a minimal staffing of three to five employees while continuing to meet their other job responsibilities," said Dr. Wayne A. Schirner, chief, Population Health Division. "I think it's an outstanding program.

"I'm proud of each and every member of the team. Everyone has put a lot of hard work and effort into it for a very long time.

"While it's nice to be recognized at the Army Surgeon General level, the best reward is seeing the positive results that show we're doing all we can to help our beneficiaries."

In addition to praising everyone for the hard work they put into the project, Schirner wanted to recognize team member Nancy Radebaugh, who took the time to write and submit the nomination for the team - an in-depth and detailed project in itself.

You can read more about the medical center's award-winning program and the Excalibur award at the AMEDD web site at www.qmo.

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