Background: Communication with primary care physicians (PCPs) at the time of a patient's hospital discharge is important to safely transition care to home. The goal of this quality improvement initiative was to increase discharge communication to PCPs at an academic children's hospital.
Methods: A multidisciplinary team at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford used Lean A3 problem solving methodology to address the problem of inadequate discharge communication with PCPs. Emphasis was placed on frontline provider (resident physicians) involvement in the improvement process, creating standards, and error proofing. Root cause analysis identified several key drivers of the problem, and successive countermeasures were implemented beginning in August 2013 aimed at achieving the target of 80% attempted verbal communication within seven days before or after (usually 24-48 hours) on the pediatric medical services. Run charts were generated tracking the outcome of PCP communication.
Results: On the pediatric medical services, the goal of 80% communication was met and sustained during a seven-month period starting October 2013, a statistically significant improvement. In the eight months prior to October 2013, hospitalwide PCP communication prior to discharge averaged 59.1% (n = 5,397) and improved to 76.7% (n = 4,870) in the seven months after (p <0.001). Fifteen of 19 specialty services had a significant increase in discharge communication after October 2013.
Conclusion: Lean improvement methodology (including structured problem solving using A3 thinking), intensive frontline provider involvement, and process-oriented electronic health record work flow redesign led to increased verbal PCP communication at around the time of a patient's discharge.
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