Have you seen MEDITECH’s For Us, It’s Personal video on what the healthcare industry means to us? In the video, I shared that my sister passed away from sepsis following a bone marrow transplant related to leukemia. Like many others, my personal experiences contribute to my passion at work, and my after-hours engagement as a member of a patient advisory board.
Recently, I attended the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)/NPSF Patient Safety Congress Conference in Boston, which provided opportunities for networking and education to support a culture of patient safety. Each session provided insights on patient safety, the patient experience, and communication.
During the “Creating a Patient Safety Net in Ambulatory” session, the presenter discussed how to ensure a proper and timely follow-up to abnormal results and accurate diagnoses.
This presentation explained that the key ingredients for a safety net are patient registries, workflow redesign, and patient outreach and tracking. In order to succeed at building a patient registry, an organization needs to make sure that clinicians are proactively entering data and that information must properly be extracted to validate chart review.
For workflow redesign, the presenter’s team encouraged organizations to utilize a patient safety team, a primary care/population health team, and specialist teams. The teams for patient outreach and tracking should include both clinical and non-clinical staff, and organizations should come up with standards for how often they should reach out to patients and how to document it.
Not only was the presentation excellent, but her personal stories resonated with the attendees. This session was easy for me to relate to both personally and professionally. In my healthcare career, and in my current role, I am involved with leveraging an EHR to ensure a higher quality of care, and improving the patient experience across the continuum. This session reconfirmed the emphasis MEDITECH is placing on these efforts; it was positive to hear that similar priority and resources are occurring out in the field.
What further complemented the sessions for me was the audience engagement. For example, during a Q&A, an attendee shared that a family member initially presented in Urgent Care with a dog bite, quickly had their situation evolve into a more serious one, and the lack of communication once transitioned to a local Emergency Department impacted their care. She pleaded to the audience that we need to do better with interoperability and communication. This was the perfect example of real people with real stories that further drive the efforts around process improvements, patient safety, and increased positive outcomes.
Another session where process improvements were emphasized was on “never events”—adverse events that have been classified as reliably preventable. This emphasized the importance of identification, development, and implementation of strategies to mitigate and decrease the likelihood and/or severity of the scenarios shared.
One of the takeaways from this session was the importance of a strong leadership culture. Organizations need to make sure their leadership team emphasizes patient safety. Teams should ensure sustainability, celebrate progress, and collaborate on their work.
In addition, a session on the importance of having indications drive medication ordering and these indications being clear on medication labels, was also an interesting discussion to hear. If you ask a patient who is on several medications why they take each one, many times they may not know the answer. Knowing and understanding why they are on a medication should help increase compliance.
The Patient Safety Congress Free From Harm events similarly invigorated me on the priority and importance of efficiency and order within healthcare. MEDITECH is on the forefront of this with our efforts around standard content, toolkits, clinical decision support, EHR safety, and regulatory standards, to name a few.
I’m committed to making patient safety a priority. It’s powerful to know that there is a whole community of healthcare professionals and organizations who strive for this same important measure. More process improvement solutions need to be put in place to keep patients safe, and eliminate complications and risks.