SHM’s Hospitalist Program Peak Performance, HP3 for short, will conclude at the end of 2014, but it will leave a legacy that will continue to improve HM groups everywhere for years to come.
The product of a unique collaboration among SHM, hospitalist consulting firm Nelson/Flores, and others, HP3 was designed as a key component of the Preventing Readmissions through Effective Partnerships (PREP) collaborative, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois in collaboration with the Illinois Hospital Association and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The overall goal of the PREP collaborative is to help move Illinois from the bottom quartile to the upper quartile ranking on readmission rates by providing tools and approaches to improve transitions of care.
“HP3 was designed to be a little like getting a personal trainer at the gym,” says John Nelson, MD, MHM, who helped create the program. “Each hospitalist group was assigned an experienced hospitalist leader as a mentor, who in some ways acted like a personal trainer, guiding and encouraging efforts to complete projects to improve their practice.
“I think most groups were surprised and pleased that they were able to accomplish more than they realized. Our hope is that they will continue ‘working out’ to improve their practice even after their participation in HP3 concludes.”
Today, many of the lessons learned from HP3—including the idea that a healthy, high-functioning hospitalist practice is an important part of improving care—have been carried into other important SHM projects, like the recent “Key Principles and Characteristics of an Effective Hospital Medicine Group,” an assessment guide developed by SHM and published in the February 2014 Journal of Hospital Medicine.
Among the ideas presented in the “Key Principles and Characteristics” guide is the concept of hospitalist engagement, which is what Dr. Mark Williams thinks hospitals can also take away from HP3.
“Engaging hospitalists is key to improving care for hospitalized patients,” says Dr. Williams, who notes that engaging hospitalists means engaging much of the entire hospital. “Hospitalists are fully integrated into hospital care delivery for general medicine patients and many—if not most—specialty and surgical patients.”
HP3 faculty Leslie Flores, MHA, SFHM, saw a two-fold benefit from HP3: an outside perspective and an introduction to techniques that will continue beyond HP3.
“It caused them to look critically at their hospitalist program and assess its organization and performance against an objective benchmark. For many, it was the first time they had been challenged to think about their hospitalist program in this way,” Flores says.
She noticed that HP3 “also taught the participants how to use basic quality improvement and project management techniques to improve their own group’s performance—these are skills they can use again and again going forward.”
Flores thinks that HP3 also benefited from another core piece of SHM’s DNA: its award-winning Mentored Implementation (MI) model, which pairs hospital sites with national experts in hospital medicine. But, instead of being focused solely on quality improvement, it broadened the MI approach to operational improvement, opening up the possibility of improved quality outcomes.
As with many SHM educational programs, the learning went in both directions and may continue after the end of HP3, according to Flores.
“I think we [the faculty and mentors], in some cases, learned as much from our participants as they learned from us,” she says. “Some of them are doing some really great things that we can add to our fund of practice management ‘best practices’ and share with others!”