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Creating Structure for Sharing Information and Knowledge in Ambulatory Care: Two Exemplars

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 11, 2017
Updated: Thursday, May 11, 2017

Breakout sessions at the upcoming NPSF Patient Safety Congress discuss how critical information sharing is to safety improvement work.

by Lorri Zipperer, MA


Communication between individuals to leverage what is known in all types of care environments can be difficult. Whether at the organizational or team level, defined goals, processes and expectations help to shore up what information is shared, how it is delivered, and what is done with it.


Two sessions at the 2017 NPSF Patient Safety Congress in Orlando will provide insights into effective information sharing in ambulatory care. They target two important initiatives that benefited from defined methods of information sharing—organizational learning from adverse events or near misses and patient transitions from the hospital to primary care teams. The speakers will discuss their experiences to highlight value associated with taking the time to build processes to apply information and knowledge in support safe care.


Improvement through sharing lessons learned

PeaceHealth recognized that the work done to improve processes wasn’t reliably assimilated to help their organization learn. “We have learned that robust event investigation requires a system-level structure to triage outpatient safety events,” said Andrea Halliday, MD, patient safety officer, PeaceHealth.“Otherwise, problems are solved on a clinic level and we miss an important opportunity to learn from our events and to spread the lessons learned.”


To help their outpatient clinics design and implement improvement strategies drawn from system-reported adverse events and near misses, PeaceHealth:  

  • Established a leadership team to track and discuss events
  • Launched and supported communication opportunities over time
  • Encouraged accountability through documented improvement action plans
  • Monitored the initiative to track its impact

This structured approach didn’t leave learning to chance. It didn’t assume that sharing was happening. Instead the organization committed to a process that raised awareness of the importance of learning from what goes wrong.

"We have learned that robust event investigation

requires a system-level structure

to triage outpatient safety events.".

—Andrea Halliday, MD


Session 305 will discuss the methods used to enable improvements across the ambulatory care continuum of a large health care system.


Safe patient transition from hospital to the community

Transitions are ripe for communication gaps, missteps, and misunderstandings. Transitions from one environment to another offer extra challenges as the team who knows the patient best can be disconnected from their care due to the changed location. Adding to the complexity, the patients may not always be effectively engaged in the process to confirm that they have the information they need to ensure their safety once outside the hospital (See Horwitz et al. 2013)


Handoff tactics such as standardized information bundles and checklists have been noted to make information sharing more reliable in the hospital and after discharge. Breakout session 505 builds on those successes to highlight an improvement strategy at Iora Health for use as patients enter the primary care management space: transition navigators.


“Our experience has shown that involvement of primary care teams when patients are hospitalized is invaluable,” said Sumair Akhtar, MD, MS, associate medical director, culinary extra clinic, Iora Health. "We understand that in a busy practice, it is nearly impossible for most PCPs to directly engage with inpatient teams on every occasion, therefore, to improve the primary care team's influence and involvement in inpatient care, we have proposed a multidisciplinary model that leverages team nurses and clinically savvy non-clinicians (with solid process and simple tools) to be the liaisons between the patients, caregivers, and inpatient and primary care teams.”


The speakers will discuss how transition navigators help to ensure that communication is clear and concerns are addressed when patients transfer out of the acute care environment. They will share tools and measures that have supported the development of this innovative member of the care team. 


Both these sessions will discuss ways to ensure that information and knowledge sharing wasn’t left to chance. They support the value of resourcing and tending to processes of transferring information to ensure that organizations and care teams are prepared to safely serve patients and families.


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Patient Safety Beyond the Walls of the Hospital is one of six Breakout Tracks featured at the NPSF Congress May 17-19. View more details.

What methods do you employ at your organization to support effective information? Comment on this post below. Note: to post a comment you must be logged in. Register or log in.


Lorri Zipperer, MA, is the principal at Zipperer Project Management in Albuquerque, NM, specializing in knowledge management efforts and bringing multidisciplinary teams together to envision, design, and implement knowledge sharing initiatives. Among her publications, Ms. Zipperer recently served as editor for two texts, Knowledge Management in Healthcare and Patient Safety: Perspectives on Evidence, Information and Knowledge Transfer, both published in 2014, and as a co-editor for the 2016 publication Inside Looking Up, published by The Risk Authority Stanford.

Tags:  2017 Patient Safety Congress  communication  transitions 

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