From SHM

i-HOPE study engages patients, families to improve quality of hospital stays

Make patients ‘equal members of the team.’

Hospitalization can be a challenging and vulnerable time for patients and their families. While challenges associated with the quality and safety of hospital care are well documented, perspectives of patients, families, caregivers, and other stakeholders are not as easily understood and are important targets of improvement research.

Dr. Luci Leykum, professor of medicine and investigator in the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and incoming associate chair for clinical innovation at Dell Medical School, University of Texas, Austin

Dr. Luci Leykum

This led to the initiation of the i-HOPE Patient Engagement Study, a collaboration including the Society for Hospital Medicine’s Center for Quality Improvement. The team completed a systematic and broad engagement process with patients, families, and caregivers, followed by an in-person prioritization meeting to generate a priority list of research topics that describe the most important gaps in the care of hospitalized patients.

The Hospitalist recently spoke with Luci Leykum, MD, MSc, MBA, SFHM, principal investigator for the i-HOPE Study, professor of medicine and investigator in the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and incoming associate chair for clinical innovation at the University of Texas at Austin.

Why is it so important to include the perspective of the patient during a hospital stay?

We cannot optimally improve outcomes of hospitalized patients if we don’t have patients’ perspectives on what needs to be improved. Hearing these perspectives also provides insights into how we can address gaps in hospital care.

How were patients and other stakeholders engaged during the i-HOPE program?

Patients, caregivers, and stakeholders were engaged throughout the entire project, from conceptualization to dissemination of results.

We worked with seven patient partners to develop the proposal that we submitted to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. They were involved in all phases of the project, from developing the informational webinars and surveys to analyzing our results.

We engaged additional patients, caregivers, and stakeholders to submit their highest priority unanswered research questions for improving hospital care. A total of 117 patients and 127 caregivers submitted questions. Our patient partners and more than 30 stakeholders were involved in prioritizing those research questions to develop our final agenda.

What is unique about the approach in the i-HOPE project, compared with other projects that may have had similar intended objectives?

Our project is unique in several respects. First, it was completely patient partnered. Having patients as equal members of the team changed our approach at every level – from how we communicated with patients and stakeholders to how we analyzed and presented our data. Second, we worked with a larger number of stakeholders representing a broad range of constituencies, from professional societies to health care delivery systems to payers.

How has SHM’s Center for Quality Improvement helped the i-HOPE program to realize its goals?

The Center for Quality Improvement helped considerably with the execution of the project. The researchers involved in i-HOPE were all members of the SHM Research Committee and were familiar with SHM’s capability as a partner in these larger-scale projects. The SHM Meetings team was instrumental in making our in-person patient and stakeholder prioritization meeting happen as well.

How can the findings of the i-HOPE program be applied?

We hope everyone can utilize our findings. Patients, families, and caregivers can use our results to improve their own care. Providers and delivery systems can target their improvement efforts using our findings to ensure that their work has the greatest impact on patients. Policy makers and funders can use our findings to direct work to the priority areas we identified. And finally, we hope the hospital research community uses our results to develop novel interventions to improve care.

For more information on the i-HOPE Patient Engagement Study, visit

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