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Norwalk Hospital Chief Charts Path to Perfection

Inside Dr. Thomas Ayoub’s Norwalk Hospital office, a host of projects, plans, notes and data are written in columns on a large whiteboard. For the chief of staff, data forms a roadmap to the future of health-care accountability.

“We’re trying to install additional quality measures so we’re making sure, the government is making sure and Medicare is making sure you are getting what you paid for,” Ayoub said while eating lunch in his Norwalk Hospital office. To craft those measures, Ayoub ensures the staff is keeping up with education and certifications. His goal is to make sure the right procedures are done properly the first time.

“My job is to make sure the doctors are licensed, are certified and have the skill set to do those things,” said Ayoub. Many of the 550 doctors under his leadership work with the hospital from private practices. On his whiteboard, Ayoub tracks training and certifications. He wants to make sure that a doctor is performing a procedure because he should, not just because he can.

Ayoub said quality health care comes down to accountability. In the past, if a procedure had to be repeated, a hospital would receive an entirely new payment from the insurer. There was no incentive to get it right the first time. Under health care reform, Medicare could penalize hospitals for repeated or improper procedures.

Norwalk Hospital prides itself on doing everything possible to get it right the first time. In February, HealthGrades named it a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence for the second year in a row. That honor is awarded to only the Top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation. Statistically, it means the institution has statisticly significantly lower complication and mortality rates. According to HealthGrades, if every hospital in the nation operated at the same level, potentially 158,684 lives on Medicare could have been saved last year.

“From a leadership role we make sure the doctors every year are meeting the right criteria and keeping current in the procedures they are performing," he said. "We’re protecting the patients and citizens of our town."

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