I was listening to Jack Maroney and Jane Jolly of Adcare Hospital in Boston discuss the care continuum—how to move patients effectively—and successfully—from inpatient care to outpatient care. It’s a challenge that many of you face every day. The approach that Adcare took is one of process improvement—a topic that has been the subject of books, magazine articles, websites, and tons of talk and seminar presentations. Jack and Jane in their webinar discussed many of the things that you find most anywhere on this topic, no news there. But the real takeaway here is how well those things can work when they are properly applied and followed up on.
Have a champion: Adcare had a clinician who championed the improvement program and who made sure that hospital leadership was focused and onboard. Having a top-level person (vice president) champion the program gave it a better chance of success from the beginning.
Get excited volunteers: A staff member who was excited about the effort to improve transitions for her patients stepped up and made her floor the pilot for the program. Having a bought-in volunteer changes everything. That’s a second-level champion for your efforts.
Fast turnaround: Find a way to make your change cycle quick so that results are seen right away. Make the learning process quick and the feedback almost immediate. Learn what works and apply it and find the mistakes early to avoid having staff get too deep into a process that doesn’t work out.
Focus on patients: Learn who your patients are and think about what works in their worlds. Make discharge planning the goal from the time the patient enters the facility. Ask the questions and think ahead.
Document, survey and respond: Make sure that you are getting the results you THINK you are getting by following up. Adcare uses a “Treatment Continuity Questionnaire” to learn if the process improvement initiative was successful. The tool was used before AND after the initiative was put in place so they had a baseline to work from. Quantify your results.
And, one final note from listening to Jack and Jane: Share what you’ve learned. Tell your colleagues, give presentations at conferences, and share in the learning process.