Health institutions team up to improve care

Medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems nationwide commit to upgrading education and patient safety.

By Carolyne Krupa — Posted April 15, 2011

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A new collaboration is bridging medical education, patient care and research in an effort to improve the safety and quality of health care nationwide.

Two hundred medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems representing 12% of U.S. hospital admissions have committed to participate. The Assn. of American Medical Colleges announced March 30 the Best Practices for Better Care initiative (link).

The goal is to get institutions to work together and improve care based on proven methods, said AAMC Chief Advocacy Officer Atul Grover, MD, PhD.

"We've had a number of individual efforts at individual institutions," he said. "What we found was there wasn't a lot of information-sharing between institutions about what different folks were doing."

The initiative will work to improve medical education about quality and patient safety, increase use of surgical checklists, reduce central-line infections, decrease hospital readmissions, and increase research and evaluation of better practices.

The University of Colorado School of Medicine chose to participate for the chance to exchange ideas with other institutions, said M. Douglas Jones Jr., MD, a pediatrics professor and senior associate dean for clinical affairs.

"We all have so many local priorities," he said. "Sharing information is always a challenge. It's wonderful to be able to learn from others and have others learn from us. Nobody learns as well in isolation as they do in sharing."

Participating institutions will report their progress on the initiatives' goals, and data will be released in periodic progress reports, Dr. Grover said. The first report is expected by February 2012.

The effort, which doesn't include funding, will continue indefinitely with the aim of fostering future physicians and other health professionals who think daily about how to improve care, he said.

"With the next generation of physicians we can really drive this so that quality improvement will move faster in the future," Dr. Grover said. "The hope is not only will we get more and more institutions involved in doing this as the years go on, but that this will be a multiyear effort that will add more goals over time."

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