News and Notes

News and Notes AHRQ releases new guide to help hospitals engage patients and families in their health care

A new AHRQ resource is now available online that gives hospitals four evidence-based strategies to engage patients and families in their care. The field-tested strategies outlined in AHRQ's new Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Safety and Quality can help hospitals make care better and safer by bridging the communication gaps among patients and families and their health care providers. 

"Many of the errors we see in health care stem from communication problems," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "That's why we developed this resource, to give hospitals practical, evidence-based information to improve communication on the front lines of health care—and ultimately keep patients safer." 

The guide provides four evidence-based strategies that hospitals can use to implement patient- and family-centered care practices. Each strategy includes educational tools and resources for patients and families, training materials for health care professionals, and real-world examples that show how strategies are being implemented in hospital settings. 

The strategies describe how patients and families, working with hospital staff, can:

  • Be advisors. How hospitals can recruit and train patients and family members to serve as advisors and train clinicians and hospital staff to work effectively with them.
  • Promote better communication at the bedside to improve quality. How patients and families can interact with the health care team, understand the different roles that team members play, and see the importance of being partners with clinicians.
  • Participate in bedside shift reports. Teaching patients and families what a bedside shift report is, how they can contribute to it, and how nurses can support those contributions.
  • Prepare to leave the hospital. Different approaches clinicians can use to plan and keep track of the tasks that need to be done before a patient is discharged from the hospital.

Research to develop the guide found that communication gaps between patients and caregivers can occur when hospitals do not address the issues that patients think are most important. Also, few tools are available to give health providers insights into patients' needs and concerns. As a result, efforts by patients, families, and health care providers to communicate more effectively with each other can fall short of their goal. 

"We know that patients and families are eager to play a role in making health care safer," said Jeff Brady, M.D., associate director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. "This guide fills an important—and largely unmet—need and gives hospitals concrete ways to put this shared interest into action."

 For a video clip of Dr. Brady discussing the new guide, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INzhyhY3e5E&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1 

You can access the guide at http://go.usa.gov/jb6J.

Help AHRQ shape new tools for shared decisionmaking

AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program invites clinicians to participate in an online survey about their needs and preferences for tools to educate patients about their treatment options. The results will inform the development of new tools and a workshop that will help clinicians use comparative effectiveness research findings in shared decisionmaking with patients and caregivers. Your survey participation will help ensure that AHRQ provides resources that bring the most value to patients, caregivers, and health care professionals. 

You can access the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AHRQ-EHC.  

Materials from AHRQ Webinar on falls prevention now available

Materials from an April 18 AHRQ webinar (http://go.usa.gov/jbe4) that focused on the research and testing behind AHRQ's Preventing Falls in Hospitals: A Toolkit for Improving Quality of Care are now available on the AHRQ Web site. Nearly 1 million patients fall in U.S. hospitals each year. The toolkit is a guide that can help hospitals develop, implement, and sustain a falls prevention program. 

The toolkit offers hospital clinical staff 35 evidence-based tools for falls prevention. The newly posted information, which includes audio from the webinar, slides, and a written transcript, demonstrates how these evidence-based tools were pilot tested to ensure they were realistically implementable, easy to use, and broadly applicable in the acute-care setting. Also presented are the challenges and opportunities experienced by pilot facilities, Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, MA, and August Health in Fishersville, VA. 

You can access the complete Preventing Falls in Hospitals toolkit at http://go.usa.gov/jbeG.

Use of HIE decreases repeat imaging in emergency departments

Using a health information exchange (HIE) can decrease repeat diagnostic imaging for back and head pain, according to research supported by AHRQ. Researchers analyzed cases from Memphis area emergency departments to better understand the impact of HIE on repeated x-rays, CAT scans, and other radiological studies.  Doctors, nurses, and other clinicians working in emergency departments did not frequently look up patient test results through the HIE. However, when they did use the HIE to obtain prior results, there was a significant reduction in repeat testing. 

The study suggests that more research is needed to assess strategies to encourage providers to routinely access HIEs to determine if prior test results are available. More details are in "Does health information exchange reduce unnecessary neuroimaging and improve quality of headache care in the emergency department?" in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. You can access the abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22648609

The article, "Health Information Exchange Reduces Repeated Diagnostic Imaging for Back Pain," appeared in the July 2013 Annals of Emergency Medicine. You can access the abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23465552.

Current as of August 2013
Internet Citation: News and Notes. August 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/13aug/0813RA37.html