AHRQ’s Medical Office Survey Helps Colorado Hospital Provide Better Care
Yuma District Hospital and Clinics, a 15-bed hospital with two rural health clinics in northeast Colorado, has used results from an AHRQ-developed patient safety survey, the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture, to improve patient care. Changes made as a result of the survey include improving patient hand-offs and hiring a "patient navigator" to help diabetic and high-risk patients get appropriate and timely care.
"The survey helped us see how we’re doing from year to year, and we’re able to compare our results against national standards," said Bev Funaro, R.N., director of quality and regulatory affairs at Yuma District Hospital. "We knew the survey would be a critical tool for improving patient care, but what we didn’t foresee was how valuable it would be in strengthening a team perspective among staff. It’s helped us build on areas of strength, identify areas of weakness, and implement important changes that are improving patient care system-wide."
The Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture is one of five AHRQ safety culture surveys. This version is designed to help outpatient medical office providers and staff assess patient safety, track changes, and evaluate the impact of steps taken to prevent patient harm.
Among changes made by Yuma was the adoption of "morning huddles," which helped improve staff communication and collaboration within and across hospital departments. Yuma District Hospital also established a committee of representatives from every department to look at non-punitive responses to errors identified by the survey.
Cindy Mulder, regulatory services assistant at the hospital, leads the committee and works with Ms. Funaro educating staff on the importance of the survey. "Survey results are shared with all staff members to let them know how we’re doing and provide a forum to openly discuss questions, concerns, and ways to improve that focus on enhancing patient care and strengthening the system," Ms. Mulder said.
"We've used the survey to initiate conversations that previously could be challenging to have without making staff feel defensive," Ms. Mulder explained. "We do this by discussing what we're doing well in addition to our near-misses. By using survey results to focus on the system, rather than the individual, we've been able to break down barriers between offices and departments and improve the patient hand-off process."
Survey findings also led Yuma to create a walk-in program for clinic patients. Ms. Funaro said a team approach was implemented to increase continuity in a rotating staff whose clinicians often work only a few days a week.
"This ensures all our patients receive same-day care by a provider familiar with their case when patients' regular providers are not available," Ms. Funaro said. "The most valuable features of the survey are its user-friendliness and the ability to interact with AHRQ's [Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture Comparative] Database."
The interactive database is a central repository that allows medical offices to compare their survey results against results from 934 medical offices and more than 23,000 respondents who have administered the AHRQ instrument.
"We never have problems getting questions answered when we face an issue, and AHRQ's customer service is exceptional." said Ms. Funaro.