In recognition of National Stroke Awareness Month, we thank all those committed to improving stroke care and helping advance safer consistent, quality healthcare for all. To shed light on the significance of high-fidelity stroke data in enhancing patient care, maximizing hospital efficiencies, and boosting confidence in clinical data, we had the privilege of speaking with Rachell Durham, a clinical data quality specialist at Q-Centrix specializing in stroke work.
Introduce yourself and tell us about your background
I’m Rachell Durham and I’ve had quite a journey in the healthcare field. I started my career in 1999, when I enrolled in a technical school to pursue phlebotomy. I ended up getting hired by the hospital where I did my clinicals and was lucky enough to get some great experience there. It was a tough job, but I loved working with the nurses and getting to know the critical care units.
After a few years as a phlebotomist, I transitioned to a secretary position in the hospital, which allowed me to continue my involvement in critical care. Soon after, I became a unit secretary in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.
During my 12 years there, I got my first taste of abstraction-related work, but it was stroke abstraction that really caught my attention. I eventually got so good that I went on to learn other types of cases and began doing so much abstraction work that the hospital made me a full-time data abstractor.
Working at the hospital, I faced the challenges of abstraction work alone. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the American Heart Association, learning how to navigate cases and understand the specifics of certain measures. In the past seven years at Q-Centrix, I’ve become part of a team of dedicated clinical data experts who continuously elevate one another’s skills. That team and the resources we are offered have truly made all the difference in the quality of data and its impact on care.
How does your work at Q-Centrix contribute to safer, consistent, quality health care for all?
As a clinical data quality specialist, I have the privilege of training and coaching new data experts, ensuring data integrity, reviewing accuracy, and serving as an educator. As a quality coach, I work closely with our team members, guiding them through medical records, teaching them the techniques our team uses, and sharing my knowledge. I review their work and help answer specific questions, interpret guidelines, and direct them to relevant information.
I also work with our clinical leaders, fostering conversations with our partners in the health care facility to help make improvements. When partners have questions about fallouts or certain measures, I help explain and work with them on improving their documentation and workflows for the future.
What challenges do you and your team help hospitals solve?
My team of experts specializes in identifying gaps and revealing opportunities for improvement with clinical data. Hospital stroke programs are very concerned with their treatment times – the time it takes to initiate treatment has a direct impact on measures and awards/accreditations received by hospitals. When partners approach us seeking guidance on improving their treatment times, we collaborate with physicians and nurse practitioners, helping them enhance their documentation practices. By providing additional context on important documentation, we help partners meet requirements set by the Joint Commission and allow them to present accurate and comprehensive documentation that reflects the high-quality care they provide and maintain their awards and accreditations.
What motivates you to do this work?
I’m incredibly passionate about the data we work with. My team provides high-quality data that empowers our partners to make data-driven decisions. Knowing that those decisions, backed by our data will improve processes and positively impact the quality of care provided to patients – every part of those statements is what it’s all about for me.
I’ve been on both sides of the equation. I’ve been at the bedside when you know a patient is super sick and you need to provide treatment right away – that’s lifesaving work. Our data helps hospitals refine their processes to where they can make those decisions more quickly. In stroke particularly, time is crucial because it can be the difference between lasting impacts, such as paralysis, or a full recovery.
Our data is helping partners swoop in and change the life of the patients they work with and giving them the opportunity to better their care processes, which will in turn make a positive impact on the patient’s life. This is what keeps me engaged and excited about the work our teams do.