Participating in COAP

Because they want the highest quality care possible for their patients, heart doctors and other members of the Washington heart care community developed the Clinical Outcomes Assessment Program (COAP). Heart care professionals from across the state are part of this innovative, collaborative approach to improve the quality of care for all heart patients in Washington. COAP encourages collaboration among cardiac experts to improve quality, share strategies and learn from each other about the best ways to treat heart disease. Full participation in COAP’s quality improvement program is an important marker of a hospital’s commitment to quality health care.

The 35 hospitals participating in COAP get regular feedback about their performance in several key areas of heart care. Their results are compared to the state average. If any hospital’s performance measures are significantly poorer than the state average, COAP helps them begin a quality improvement process: Hospitals confirm that the information is accurate, write a plan for correcting any problems, and show in future measurements that problems have been corrected. Hospitals that have submitted complete, high-quality information on time and have satisfactorily addressed any problems are designated as “participating in full compliance” with the heart care community’s quality improvement standards. Hospitals that haven’t completed all these steps are considered to be “participating in partial compliance” and are actively involved in COAP’s ongoing QI efforts.

The COAP Management Committee reviews each hospital’s participation status twice a year. To help hospitals and doctors work together as peers, neither the Management Committee members nor anyone else knows the names of the hospitals they evaluate, only their results. Participating hospitals receive regular feedback on their performance in comparison to statewide results so they can continue to improve heart care at their facility.

If you are considering having heart surgery or another cardiac procedure, there are a number of issues you should discuss with your health care provider beforehand. These include the risks and benefits of the procedure, any alternative treatments that might be available and how the hospital where you are having the procedure demonstrates its commitment to quality care. Each hospital has a number of activities meant to assure high quality care; COAP’s unique approach lists hospitals that have successfully met the high standards determined by heart care professionals from across the state. COAP certification offers assurances that your doctors and hospital are working together toward a common goal; providing the highest quality of care available.