Christiana Care Health System showcased its extensive health services research projects, led by the Value Institute at Christiana Care, during the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting in June, in San Diego, Calif.
Christiana Care researchers presented 13 research posters in a range of categories, including patient-centered outcomes, health information technology and long-term care.
The annual conference is considered a premiere forum for discussion of health research, policy and practice, said Timothy Gardner, M.D., executive director of the Value Institute. It attracts almost 2,500 researchers, providers, policymakers, clinicians and students each year.
“With 13 posters, our Value Institute researchers had a prominent place at this important annual meeting,” said Dr. Gardner, who also the medical director of Christiana Care’s Center for Heart & Vascular Health. “The goals of AcademyHealth are aligned with ours: to identify and create practice and policy solutions to improve health care for patients and providers. Our team’s presentations represent collaboration with our colleagues throughout the health system and contribute to this essential body of knowledge.”
Christiana Care’s posters showcased real-world research collaborations between the Value Institute and departments throughout the health system, from Finance to Medicine. All touched, in various ways, on health care’s Triple Aim of improving population health and patient experience and reducing cost.
For example, two of the posters were developed through collaborations among the Value Institute’s Center for Organizational Excellence, Value Institute research staff and health care providers at Christiana Care. One project reduced unnecessary blood transfusions and their associated patient risks and costs by leveraging Lean Sigma Six process-improvement techniques that they learned through training at Christiana Care. The other used similar techniques to reduce turnaround times for lab tests in Christiana Hospital’s Emergency Department.
“Partnerships with our colleagues throughout the Health System led to 12 of the projects we presented at AcademyHealth and, most importantly, to the positive impacts they have on patient care,” said Value Institute Research Associate Jennifer Goldsack, MChem, MA (Oxon), MS, who had four posters at the conference. “The Value Institute provides research support and expertise to our clinical and research partners. Together, we write abstracts, collect data and develop posters to tell the story of our internal work so that it can be both celebrated and disseminated to other institutions, which is part of our mission.”
Another poster presented at the conference, “Improving Transitions from Acute Care to the Extended Care Setting,” began with the staff on Unit 5C, a 40-bed medical/surgical unit at Christiana Hospital. They were seeing a high number of readmissions from area nursing homes, especially among patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and reached out to those providers to see how communication could be improved to reduce readmissions. Those efforts resulted in the creation of disease-specific clinical summary sheets, direct communication between a hospital physician and a nursing home physician on each patient, and a streamlined discharge packet that provided extended-care facilities with easier-to-read critical information about patients and their specific conditions and treatment needs.
“It was easy to see that things could be done better. Together, we put together a process that would work for everyone and benefit the patient most of all,” said Heather Powell, MSN, RN, MS-BC, a patient care facilitator on 5C at Christiana Hospital who has been deeply involved in the project. Powell collaborated with Value Institute Research Associate Kimberly Williams, MPH, to compile research and prepare the AcademyHealth poster presentation.
At the AcademyHealth conference, keynote speaker Harvey Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., MPP, president of the Institute of Medicine, focused his presentation on the importance of embedding researchers in hospital settings to create learning health care systems.
“As I listened to him talk about the role of health services research in improving health outcomes,” said Williams, who presented several posters at the conference, “I felt as if he were speaking to the Value Institute’s goals at Christiana Care, to achieve better health, better care and better value.”