Quality Improvement (QI)

Is It Time for Health Policy M&Ms?

[caption id="attachment_16917" align="alignnone" width="609"] https://twitter.com/ChrisMoriates/status/890259986873450508[/caption] There are few experiences in my medical training that felt more intimidating, and ultimately more impactful, than our Mortality and Morbidity (M&M) conferences. The patients whose diagnoses I missed. The times I should have called my attending or pushed harder for the cardiologist to come in overnight. They stick with me and I believe ultimately have helped make me a better doctor. This is why I was intrigued by the idea of explicitly incorporating health policy issues into M&M. Over the past few years, I increasingly have seen adverse events that result from issues related to health policy. Inability to access care for appropriate hospital follow-up. Failure to fill a critical prescription due to cost or gaps in coverage. A patient I admitted for “expedited work-up” for rectal bleeding after he told me he had been trying to get a recommended colonoscopy for many months…

You Have Lowered Length of Stay. Congratulations. You’re Fired.

For several decades, providers working within hospitals have had incentives to reduce stay durations and keep patient flow tip-top. DRG-based and capitated payments expedited that shift. Accompanying the change, physicians became more aware of the potential repercussions of sicker and quicker discharges. They began to monitor their care and as best as possible, use what measures they could ascertain as a proxy for quality (readmissions and hospital acquired conditions). Providers balanced the harms of a continued stay over the benefits of added days, not to mention the need for cost savings. However, the narrow focus on the hospital stay, the first three to seven days of illness, distracted us from the out weeks after discharge. With the acceleration of inpatient episodes, we cast patients to post-acute settings unprepared for the hardship they would face. By the latter, I mean, frailty risk, more reliance on others for help, and a greater need…

A New Face For Online Modules

It is hard for me to get excited by online modules. Perhaps my reflex repulsion stems from my experience – ok, experiences – completing online traffic school courses. Those timers forcing you to stay on a page for a specific amount of time. The quizzes that might not actually teach you anything. Maybe you are a more cautious driver than I am, but if so, just think of the last time you had to complete a mandatory online module for your hospital. I doubt it gripped your attention. The future of education may increasingly be online, but I am unconvinced that mandatory online modules are a format that will change the world. This is why I have spent so much time working with innovative teams to develop interactive learning modules that do not feel like online modules. Vinny Arora and I recently described on this blog our Costs of Care…

The Essentials of QI Leadership: A Conversation with Dr. Eric Howell, Part 2

My last blog post, featuring my Q and A with Dr. Eric Howell, Division Director, Collaborative Inpatient Medicine Service (CIMS) at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, and SHM's Senior Physician Advisor, focused on his early days in Quality Improvement (QI) and advice for training in QI. This next post discusses the Center’s role within SHM and how hospitalists can become involved in quality improvement. How did you get involved in The Center, and can you explain your role in The Center today? It was a lot of luck, good timing and being prepared. I’ve been in The Center for two years. Before that, I was involved with a number of The Center’s successful QI projects. I was reasonably well known in the Project BOOST (SHM's program for improving care transitions) community. Along with Mark Williams and Jeff Greenwald, I was one of the original three who pitched Project…

It’s Time for a Buzz Cut

I sometimes joke that hospitalists are the medicine version of the mullet haircut – you know, all business in "the front" (i.e. the patient care area) and all party in "the back" (i.e. the work room). In "the back", the usual scenario is to complain and moan about our frequent flyers, our drug seekers, our many unsaveable patients, the incredible situations ("He put a nail where??), with good-natured but somewhat bitter truculence about sharing duties with housestaff and general whining about hospital leadership. Generally, as long as these semi-inappropriate conversations and remarks were kept "backstage", and our demeanor was professional "onstage", I felt it was harmless. You know, gallows humor. A coping mechanism. And often entertaining. But there was always a part of me that wondered if these "backstage" conversations were having a more corrosive impact on communication with our patients. Does it normalize a negative judgement about patients if…
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