Hospitalist David J. Yu, MD, FACP, MBA, SFHM, medical director of the adult inpatient service at Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, N.M., began his quality journey by earning an MBA, then spending a week at University of Toyota in Gardena, Calif., to learn its Lean process-management techniques. He presented a Research, Innovations, and Clinical Vignettes poster at HM12 that outlined the multidisciplinary quality initiative at 453-bed Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque.
The project identified problems of throughput, ED diversion, disjointed team rounding, inadequate communication, multiple patient handoffs, low staff morale, and greater-than-expected length of stay (LOS).
“We really dug into the issues on a granular level,” with the participation of finance, nursing, care coordinators, physical therapy, and other staffers alongside the hospitalists, Dr. Yu says. The project ended up changing the practice from a model in which 11 hospitalist teams and five admitting hospitalists cared for patients throughout the hospital’s various floors while carrying caseloads too high to manage optimally. They replaced it with a unit-based rounding model, with hospitalists and care coordinators geographically segregated on units and multidisciplinary rounds to improve the efficiency of team communication (see “A Holy Grail,” July 2012, p. 30).
The group also used data to persuade the hospital’s administration to add hospitalist FTEs. As a result, LOS on two pilot units decreased by nearly half a day, with increased inpatient volume, higher patient satisfaction scores on Press-Ganey surveys, and an estimated net financial benefit of nearly $3.5 million between April 2010 and December 2011—even counting the additional hospitalist FTEs. This model has since spread to all medical units in the hospital.
“We need to be in the business of producing ‘defect-free’ discharges,” Dr. Yu quips. “Every group needs a local solution. But the mantra for this work is standardization….That’s where the leadership of the hospitalist comes in. It’s not, ‘Follow me,’ but ‘Hey, join us in collaborating together to come up with a solution.’
“It has been a two-year journey, and we’re still learning.”