SOURCE: Medline Industries, Inc.

Medline Industries, Inc.

April 13, 2009 13:45 ET

Lorien Health Systems, Ellicott City, MD, Improves Resident Care Dramatically by Employing Customer Service Fundamentals

Nursing Home Is Early Adopter of New abaqis Quality Assurance System Being Utilized by More Than 300 Nursing Homes to Improve Resident Care, Prepare for State Survey

MUNDELEIN, IL--(Marketwire - April 13, 2009) - Improving resident care and quality of life at Lorien Health Systems in Ellicott City, MD., along with our nation's other 15,000 nursing homes -- where more than 1.5 million people live -- is a growing concern. That is why the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has recently launched resident and family focused initiatives such as the new Five Star rating system and the Quality Indicator Survey (QIS), a new facility inspection process being rolled out nationally.

To help open the lines of communication between Lorien's staff and its residents and their families, (while also improving their Five Star rating and QIS results), the six facility nursing and rehabilitation system is employing a new quality assurance system called abaqis® Nursing Home Quality Assurance System, which is marketed and distributed exclusively through Medline Industries, Inc. Launched less than a year ago, the system is helping providers such as Lorien to improve the care they provide their residents by employing some very basic tenets of customer service: asking their residents specific questions about the care they receive and then changing the staff's behavior based on the answers.

"Although it sounds so simple, the abaqis system prompted us to ask our residents, 'Is this acceptable to you?'" said Wayne Brannock, Vice President, Clinical Affairs for Lorien. "Those five words are changing the way we define and measure quality. We get specific feedback from our residents and then alter our service to improve their quality of care year-round."

Claudia Chatham, Regional Nurse Consultant for Midwest Health Management based in Topeka, KS., had a similar experience with a resident who was constantly complaining that he was not getting his sleeping pill (although he was) and consequently not sleeping well.

"What we learned from the questions in abaqis was that the resident was getting his sleeping pill at the same time as his other nightly medications and was confused as to what he was taking," said Chatham. "So we changed the way we dispensed his medications and gave his sleeping pill separately and told him specifically 'here is your sleeping pill.' The next morning he said he slept great and since then he is a much happier resident because of this seemingly small change we made. It was the smallest thing, but taking the time to visit with him about the things that matter to him most, meant everything to this resident. All of our residents feel this way about their own issues."

Brannock said that although nursing homes traditionally have employed high quality people, they are not necessarily trained experts in customer service and quality concepts.

abaqis helps to address these limitations by providing a quality assurance tool to nursing homes that guides them through a quality process that exactly replicates the methods and procedures of the QIS survey. abaqis is a web-based system that enables nursing home providers to identify quality concerns and focus their improvement efforts using the same forms, analysis and thresholds used by the state surveyors in the QIS.

The new QIS process addresses the need for a more consistent and resident-centered survey process through structured protocols that are fully automated on tablet PCs and by obtaining more information from direct questioning of residents and families. As a result, regulatory areas such as quality of life, which were not as fully investigated in the traditional survey process, are now receiving closer scrutiny.

What this means for the facility is that abaqis not only is an effective quality assurance tool, it is perfect for helping facilities prepare for the new QIS survey. Maryland was among the first states to have its facilities surveyed under the new QIS process and Lorien was an early adopter of the abaqis system. Currently about 250 facilities are using the abaqis quality assurance system.

"The key to abaqis is that it asks the same questions as the state survey," said Brannock. "So, when the surveyors come to your facility, there are no surprises and you have identified and addressed any issues you may have had."

The QIS is currently being rolled out in 11 states, including Maryland, with several more states to be added this year. QIS is taking the place of the traditional state survey that is annually given to all Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the country to ensure facilities comply with the Code of Federal Regulations.

"abaqis helps to level the playing field," said Brannock. "Providers can use abaqis for any survey system, as a quality improvement tool, to solve problems instead of reacting to them. This is a fabulous tool for survey readiness and improving quality."

abaqis is sold exclusively through Medline. abaqis is a registered trademark of Nursing Home Quality, LLC, who also developed the quality assurance tool and the same company the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contracts with to train the State Survey Agencies nationwide on the use of QIS. To learn more about the abaqis nursing home quality assurance system, visit or call 1-800-MEDLINE.

About Medline Industries, Inc.

Medline, the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products, manufactures and distributes more than 100,000 products to hospitals, extended-care facilities, surgery centers, home care dealers and agencies and other markets. Headquartered in Mundelein, Ill, Medline has more than 800 dedicated sales representatives nationwide to support its broad product line and cost management services.

Over the past five years, Medline has been the fastest-growing distributor of medical and surgical supplies in the U.S., serving as the primary distributor to over 250 major hospitals and healthcare systems. As a leading distributor, Medline offers a comprehensive array of consulting and management services encompassing the supply chain and logistics, utilization and standardization, business tools and enhanced reporting capabilities and on-staff clinicians.

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