Unit-based models of care


The good

Once we began our geographic, unit-based model, our rounding process was transformed.

Now, our morning rounds were joined by the bedside nurse, case manager, social worker, clinical pharmacy, and nutrition in addition to the core team. The entire team went from room to room on one ward rounding on all 20 to 25 patients back to back, which created an unparalleled level of efficiency and a forum for effective communication lasting throughout the day.

Dr. Geeta Malieckal, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Hospital Center

Dr. Geeta Malieckal

We also added workstations on wheels (WOWS) to the rounding process so that labs, radiology, and more could be reviewed on rounds with the entire team. A standard script was developed so that each patient was introduced to all members of the team, and the care plan was disclosed and highlighted. One patient noted, “I feel so cared for, knowing I have this entire team taking care of me.” We also rounded in the afternoon with the case managers and social workers to follow up tasks that were to be completed that day.

Our first few weeks utilizing the geographic, unit-based model of rounding was largely successful. The residents, now able to round on all of their patients in one location with one case manager and one social worker, noted, “This model of rounding makes my life so much easier, I feel like I can focus on the patient rather than running around. … and I know the social worker and case manager will help me.”

Provider satisfaction had improved, from residents to physicians to nurses, case managers, social workers, and more. Our case manager also noted her satisfaction with the new model, stating that her communication with the medical team was much easier. As the attending, I witnessed firsthand how working together with the team moved care forward much more quickly, compared with the previous model, because of the simple factor of increased ease of communication.

Now all team members were together in the patient room and discussion was much easier. There was less confusion, fewer delays, and better communication – I think unit-based teams can even be described as a lifesaving measure that reduces harm to patients. An additional benefit is the relationship that now developed between doctors, social workers, and case managers – they spent more time together and really got to know one another, creating a feeling of shared success and a deeper drive to help one another succeed.

In our model, 87% of surveyed residents said they felt less burned out in the new geographic, unit-based model of care, and 91% of physicians surveyed said it was easier to talk with team members to coordinate care. Additionally, our HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores saw a drastic increase in many domains. Nursing communication improved by more than 42% on domain 7B; doctor communication improved by more than 31%. Additionally, all other domains saw at least 10% improvement. We are now 5 months out from our initial rollout of the model and continue to see sustained improvements in quality measures.

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