What’s really needed, Dr. Vidyarthi says, is a hospital’s commitment to more effective transitions and its hospitalists’ leadership in driving a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, team- and evidence-based QI process. The new process should be a QI-based solution to a hospital’s care-transitions issues. “Before you can standardize your process, you need to understand it,” she says. “This is a complex problem, and it needs a multifaceted solution. But this lies squarely within the hospitalist arena. We’re part of everything that happens in the hospital.
We created an intervention that automatically triggers an e-mail with the finalized test results to the responsible providers. The intervention creates a loop of communication between the inpatient attending and the PCP. What we hope to show in our research over the next year or two is whether the intervention actually increases awareness of test results by providers.
—Anuj Dalal, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
Hospital administrators are looking to HM to solve transition and readmission problems now, says Tina Budnitz, MPH, BOOST Project Director (Better Outcomes for Older Adults through Safe Transitions). She expects the scrutiny from the C-suite, legislators, and watchdog groups to increase as the spotlight continues to shine on the healthcare system.
“Any hospitalist can act as a leader in their institution,” Budnitz says. “Be a change agent, pull a group together, and start asking questions: Do we have safe care-transitions practices and processes in place? Just by asking the right question, you can be a catalyst for the system.”
Budnitz also emphasizes the importance of teamwork in the hospital setting. “How can I help my teammates? What am I communicating to the nurses on rounds?” she says. “Can you initiate dialogue with your outpatient medical groups: ‘These faxes we’re sending you—is that information getting to you in ways and times that are helpful? And, by the way, when your patient is admitted, this information would really help me.’ ”
One of the most important initiatives responding to concerns about care transitions is Project BOOST (www.hos pitalmedicine.org/BOOST), a comprehensive toolkit for improving a hospital’s transitions of care. The project aims to build a national consensus for best practices in transitions; collaborate with representatives from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Joint Commission; and develop a national resource library, Budnitz says.
“Project BOOST not only puts forth best practices for admitting patients, planning for discharge, and then doing the discharge, it also helps show facilities how to change their systems, with resources and tools for analyzing and re-engineering the system,” she says. “Sites get one-to-one assistance from a mentor.”
Six hospitals signed on to the pilot program in 2008; 24 more joined last year. In January, SHM announced a collaborative with the University of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan for 15 Michigan hospitals to receive training and mentorship starting in May. And last month, SHM and the California HealthCare Foundation announced a Project BOOST initiative for 20 of the health system’s hospitals (see “California Dreamin’”, p. 6). Other free resources offered on the BOOST Web portal include clinical, data collection, and project management tools. SHM also has a DVD that explains how to use the “teachback” method to improve communication with patients.