Quality Improvement (QI)

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…

Vegas Awaits: Hospital Medicine 2017

I’m packing up for Vegas. I always look forward to the yearly conference. And back in Vegas, expectations are high. However, we all know there will be one or two distractions from the conference schedule. Here are few takeaways I hope to obtain from both the conference and Vegas. Building Community The Power of Networking Placing the Right Bets The Importance of Arts AYCE Benefits Building Community While I’m in Vegas, I may wander north of the strip and head for Container Park and the Downtown Project. The Zappos CEO poured $350 million of his wealth into this downtown Las Vegas project, with the goal of rapidly building a community from scratch as start-up city. Health can be impacted by the design of a city, and many cities are taking that cue. The Downtown Project wanted to create a walkable city and a new tech industry while experimenting with city building at the private level.…

How Often Do You Ask This (Ineffective) Question?

How often do we get complacent with knowledge?  We hear the same thing over and over, and the message becomes lore.  Drink eight ounces of water per day or turkey makes you drowsy—not only do we as docs believe it but we tell family members and patients the same. I came across a new study in CMAJ that fractures another piece of lore we hold fast. And not only should this study put the kibosh on it, but also upends a practice (a patient question) that teachers from eons past have instructed us to use over and over and over.  The question has intuitive appeal, is easy to gestalt, and has a universal understanding.  Non-physicians and laypeople can grasp what the answer implies without any difficulty.  (more…)

Dont Compare HM Group Part B Costs Hospital to Hospital. It’s About the Variation Between Individuals.

I have been and will be light on the blogging these days.  However, a new JAMA online first study out looking at hospitalist Part B cost variation deserves some attention.  Bestill my heart.  It's not about groups.  It's about individual physicians.  The gap between high- and low-spending doctors in the same hospital was larger than the gap in spending between hospitals. From the editorial: In this issue, Tsugawa et al3 analyze spending by individual physicians in relation to patient outcomes. The research team compared Medicare Part B spending per hospitalization by hospitalists practicing within the same hospital. To profile each physician’s level of spending, average Part B spending per hospitalization for 2011 and 2012 was used, then applied to clinical outcomes (30-day readmission and 30-day mortality rates) for 2013 and 2014. The split-sample approach mitigates bias if a physician treats a complex set of patients in one year and therefore has…
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