From the Society

Understanding patient process flow

Student researcher encounters some constraints


Editor’s note: The Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM’s) Physician in Training Committee launched a scholarship program in 2015 for medical students to help transform health care and revolutionize patient care. The program has been expanded for the 2017-18 year, offering two options for students to receive funding and engage in scholarly work during their first, second and third years of medical school. As a part of the longitudinal (18-month) program, recipients are required to write about their experience on a monthly basis.

This phase of the QI project aims at a thorough understanding of the process flow of a patient, from being transferred from outside the hospital, receiving tertiary care services at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, to being discharged to a rehabilitation facility/skilled nursing facility.

I am conducting interviews with key stakeholders to understand the current processes and needs for improvement. The key stakeholders include but are not limited to infectious disease, hospital medicine, nursing, case management, and psychiatry services.

I have developed an interview guide to facilitate the interviews. Based on a framework similar to SWOT analysis, the key questions include: (1) what makes this patient population particularly difficult to receive appropriate care/support? (2) What makes them difficult to be discharged when tertiary service is completed? (3) What can help them stay longer in the community and delay/prevent readmission?

I am working on retrieving clinical data from medical records and an infectious disease service database, and am going to analyze current patient status. Key metrics will include but not limited to length of stay, 30‐day readmission rate, patient satisfaction rating, infectious disease provider follow-up rate, and hospitalization cost.

A challenge I foresee I will encounter is deciding on a focused area for the improvement project. The constraints may be coming from clinical data availability or the willingness for the stakeholder to participate. For this purpose, I am going to ask each stakeholder about their priorities, and what they view as the most urgent or important aspects to improve. I also hope to identify stakeholders who might already have been thinking or working on improving care for this patient population.

I will address the data availability issue by following up closely with the infectious disease service. After I develop a general sense of the data, I will work with the interdisciplinary team to decide on a focused area for improvement.


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