Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology recently ranked 46th on U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of the best children’s hospitals in the United States, validating the outstanding care our staff provides to children with complex, chronic conditions such as diabetes. The department also ranked in the top 50 in U.S. News & World Report’s best children’s hospitals rankings for 2016 and 2017.
“In the past, the U.S. News rankings were more heavily weighted on reputation scores, which gave big name institutions an edge. Now they are more data-driven and focused on outcomes,” said Dr. Bradley Van Sickle, a pediatric endocrinologist who led the department’s process improvement efforts and submission for the annual rankings. “We built a diabetes registry with 1,500 patients so we can effectively monitor how well we are meeting the goals for these patients and ensuring their disease is well managed.”
Dr. Van Sickle noted this has been a several year-long process with the entire team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and front-line staff working together to improve monitoring and follow-up care.
“For diabetes patients, we looked at high impact areas that gave us opportunities for improvement, such as making sure they receive an annual eye exam and an annual urine test to check kidney function,” he said. “We can’t track whether they had an eye exam in Epic, so we remind patients to bring in the report from their eye doctor. We also make sure to perform the urine test when they’re in the office, so they don’t forget to do it.”
Another area the staff has targeted is high-risk diabetes patients who are struggling. Social workers make calls to patients in between appointments to offer guidance and support for any issues, such as help getting supplies, taking insulin or monitoring their blood sugar.
“Tech such as glucose sensors and insulin pumps have made it easier, but some patients still need more personal guidance to improve their diabetes control so they can just be kids,” Dr. Van Sickle said.
The staff also monitors the care provided to patients with other endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid disease, ensuring patients get lab work done on time, maintain their thyroid at a normal level and keep appointments on schedule.
“We see a lot of patients and always knew we provide great care, but now we are doing a better job of monitoring for continuous improvement,” he said. “Being able to demonstrate how well we are doing for our patients and getting recognized on a national level justifies the hard work. It’s nice to see how we compare so we can strive to do even better.”
View U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of the best children’s hospitals by specialty.