AllMed Webinar Helps Hospitals Build Effective Peer Review Operations

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The optimal peer review culture is a collaborative effort between the organization's board and senior leaders and the organized medical staff. During a recent AllMed webinar, the company's CEO, Mr. Andrew Rowe, discussed the importance of having all of these groups working toward a common vision, mission, and goals in order to build effect peer review operations. He presented the results of a poll conducted by AllMed, in which only about half of organizations reported that they have triggers that define when a practitioner should have a focused evaluation that the triggers are applied by all medical staff departments.

"Hospitals should develop procedures to turn to external peer review as required by their own particular circumstances," said Mr. Rowe. Regular self-assessment of their peer review program allows hospital staff to quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of their organization's peer review program and pinpoint areas needing attention. The findings provide the basis for taking remedial action with individual physicians when appropriate, as well as for developing action plans to address essential follow-up issues and deficiencies. Ongoing, periodic re-assessment allows the hospital to measure progress and to fine-tune their peer review program as needed.

Mr. Rowe pointed out that hospitals face many challenges when it comes to peer review operations. Some physicians simply do not have the training or experience to conduct effective peer review. For  others, involvement in a peer review committee presents yet another time-consuming responsibility to add to an already overloaded schedule. In some cases, reviews are not given the attention they require. "When leadership does not fully support the peer review process and/or views it negatively, the process becomes slow, cumbersome, and ineffective, with hesitation to follow the program except in the most difficult cases," Mr. Rowe told the audience.

Mr. Rowe, the key to effective, proactive peer review is a strong process-oriented framework and operational infrastructure. Effective peer review operations consists of a number of key components that not only facilitate the conduct of peer review itself, but also make it a more repeatable, consistent process. In addition to discussing these key factors, Mr. Rowe detailed the necessary peer review oversight. "Bylaws should clearly define the structure, policies, and procedures for both internal and external peer review."

Mr. Rowe also discussed the peer review committee structure, pointing out that effective peer review requires a centralized multidisciplinary peer review system that utilizes a uniform method for peer review activities. The peer review system should be designed with a strong multidisciplinary peer review committee, with appropriate representation of medical staff leaders and practitioners, established as subcommittee of the medical executive committee. The committee is responsible for deciding when/how to turn to external review, developing a standard process for outsourcing cases, identifying a vendor for external peer review, and establishing a budget.

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