When SHM received the Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for 2011 for innovation in patient safety and quality at the national level, the award represented national recognition for the society’s three major hospital quality improvement initiatives. Moreover, it highlighted the integral role mentors play in each of the programs, helping physicians and hospitals make accelerated progress on important patient safety and quality issues.
Mentored implementation assigns a physician expert to train, guide, and work with the participating facilities’ hospitalist-led, multidisciplinary team through the life cycle of a QI initiative. The three programs focus on VTE prevention, glycemic control, and transitions of care. The first hospital cohort for VTE prevention—the VTE Prevention Collaborative—was in 2007. The care transitions program, known as Project BOOST, started in 2008. The Glycemic Control Mentored Implementation (GCMI) Program began in 2009. A fourth SHM mentored implementation program is MARQUIS, the Multi-Center Medication Reconciliation Quality Improvement Study.
In basic terms, mentoring is “coaching from a physician who has expertise both in the clinical subject matter and in implementing the processes and tools of quality improvement—usually because they’ve done it themselves,” says Gregory Maynard, MD, MSc, SFHM, senior vice president of SHM’s Center for Hospital Innovation and Improvement and a co-founder of two of its mentored implementation programs.
Mentors typically are paired with one or two participating hospitals for 12 to 18 months, conducting monthly conference calls with the team, sharing tools and resources from SHM’s online library, and offering advice on how to navigate the treacherous currents of culture change within a hospital. BOOST mentors also make in-person site visits. They are well versed in protocol and order set design and quality measurement strategies, and they know how to engage frontline professionals and institutional leadership, Dr. Maynard says.
Some mentors have received formal QI training, and many have attended Mentor University, a 1-1/2 day intensive training course offered by SHM that reinforces the nuances of coaching, the contents of SHM’s quality toolkits, and ideas for overcoming common barriers to improvement. SHM’s mentor support provides continuous professional development for the mentors, pairing new mentors with senior mentors to coach them in the process and hosting an online community with other mentors.
“What’s telling to me is that many of the people who have been mentored by SHM’s programs in one topic go on to become mentors in another topic, taking those portable skills and principles and applying them in other quality areas,” Dr. Maynard says. “We’re fostering leadership and quality improvement skills among hospitalists; that’s really one of our main goals. People learn the skill and then spread it within their system.”
Mark Williams, MD, FACP, MHM, Project BOOST principal investigator and a veteran SHM mentor, says that just providing educational materials to health professionals often isn’t enough for them to overcome the barriers to change.
“I’ve seen many large-scale quality projects that didn’t work, as they were simply disseminating information, content, or knowledge,” he says. Mentored implementation as practiced by SHM is “a model for disseminating quality improvement nationally,” he adds. “Pretty much any quality improvement project can be done this way.”
Key to the mentored implementation program’s success is the personalized approach and customized solutions.
“You directly meet with the team in their own setting and begin to see what’s going on,” Dr. Williams says. “You also meet with the hospital’s senior leadership. That’s when you start to see change.”
The Hospitalist connected with eight SHM mentors. The following are snapshots of their work in the mentorship program and some of the lessons they taught—and learned—from the program.