Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Outcomes & Safety / 16.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Regis Goulart Rosa, MD, PhD Responsabilidade Social - PROADI Hospital Moinhos de Vento MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The debate about visiting policies in adult ICUs is of broad and current interest in critical care, with strong advocacy in favour of flexible family visitation models in order to promote patient- and family-centred care. However, the proportion of adult ICUs with unrestricted visiting hours is very low. Data from the literature show that 80% of hospitals in the United Kingdom and USA adopt restrictive ICU visiting policies. Among ICUs with restrictive visiting hours, published studies show that the daily visiting time ranges from a median of 1 hour in Italy to a mean of 4.7 hours in France. In agreement with this scenario, most adult ICUs in Brazil follow a restrictive visitation model, in which family members are allowed to visit the critically ill patient from 30 minutes to 1 hour, once or twice a day. These restrictive visitation models have been justified by the theoretical risks associated with unrestricted visiting hours, mainly infectious complications, disorganization of care, and burnout. Controversially, these risks have not been consistently confirmed by the scarce literature on the subject, and flexible ICU visiting hours have been proposed as a means to prevent delirium among patients and improve family satisfaction. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Response: Disappointingly, studies evaluating the effectiveness and safety of flexible ICU visiting hours are scarce. To date, no large randomized trials have assessed the impact of a flexible visiting model on patients, family members, and ICU staff, and this evidence gap may constitute a barrier to the understanding of the best way to implement and improve ICU visiting policies. In the present pragmatic cluster-randomized crossover trial (The ICU Visits Study), we engaged 1,685 patients, 1,295 family members, and 826 ICU professionals from 36 adult ICUs in Brazil to compare a flexible visitation model (12 hours/day plus family education) vs. the standard restricted visitation model (median 90 minutes per day). We found that the flexible visitation did not significantly reduce the incidence of delirium among patients, but was associated with fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and higher satisfaction with care among family members in comparison to the usual restricted visitation. Also, the flexible visitation did not increase the incidence of ICU-acquired infections and ICU staff burnout, which are major concerns when adopting this intervention. MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? Response: Considering the evidence suggesting that most adult ICUs restrict the presence of family members, our results provide useful and relevant information that may influence the debate about current ICU visitation policies around the world. First, a flexible visitation policy that permits flexible family visitation in ICU (up to 12 hour per day) is feasible, given the high adherence of participant ICUs to implementation in The ICU Visits Study. Second, the flexible family supported by family education is safe regarding the occurrence of infections, disorganization of care or staff burnout. Third, family members - a commonly missing piece of the critical care puzzle - seem to benefit from the flexible visitation model through higher satisfaction with care and less symptoms of anxiety and depression. MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? Response: Future research might focus on the following topics: 1) methods of implementation of flexible visiting models in ICUs; 2) Family support interventions in the context of flexible ICU visiting hours (e.g.: psychological and social support, support for shared decision making, peer support, and comfort); and 3) How flexible ICU visiting hours affects patient, family member and staff outcome at long-term. Disclosures: The ICU Visits study was funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Health through the Brazilian Unified Health System Institutional Development Program (PROADI-SUS). Citation: Effect of Flexible Family Visitation on Delirium Among Patients in the Intensive Care Unit [wysija_form id="3"] [last-modified] The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.Regis Goulart Rosa, MD, PhD Responsabilidade Social - PROADI Hospital Moinhos de Vento  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The debate about visiting policies in adult ICUs is of broad and current interest in critical care, with strong advocacy in favour of flexible family visitation models in order to promote patient- and family-centred care. However, the proportion of adult ICUs with unrestricted visiting hours is very low. Data from the literature show that 80% of hospitals in the United Kingdom and USA adopt restrictive ICU visiting policies. Among ICUs with restrictive visiting hours, published studies show that the daily visiting time ranges from a median of 1 hour in Italy to a mean of 4.7 hours in France. In agreement with this scenario, most adult ICUs in Brazil follow a restrictive visitation model, in which family members are allowed to visit the critically ill patient from 30 minutes to 1 hour, once or twice a day. These restrictive visitation models have been justified by the theoretical risks associated with unrestricted visiting hours, mainly infectious complications, disorganization of care, and burnout. Controversially, these risks have not been consistently confirmed by the scarce literature on the subject, and flexible ICU visiting hours have been proposed as a means to prevent delirium among patients and improve family satisfaction. 
Author Interviews, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research / 19.06.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_49834" align="alignleft" width="155"]William Cooper, M.D., M.P.H. Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor Pediatrics and Health Policy Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Director, Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. Cooper[/caption] William Cooper, M.D., M.P.H. Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor Pediatrics and Health Policy Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Director, Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy Vanderbilt University Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: For surgical teams, high reliability and optimal performance are dependent on effective communication, mutual respect, and continuous situational awareness. Surgeons who model unprofessional behaviors may contribute to undermining a culture of safety, threaten teamwork, and thereby increase risk for medical errors and surgical complications.
Author Interviews, Frailty, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA, Stanford, Surgical Research / 27.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: hospital-frailty-surgeryKara Anne Rothenberg.MD Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Vascular Surgery Shipra Arya, MD SM FACS Associate Professor of Surgery Stanford University School of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There is a growing body of literature showing that frailty, a syndrome where patients have increased vulnerability to a stressor (such as surgery), is associated with increased postoperative complications, failure to rescue, and hospital readmissions. The Risk Analysis Index (RAI), is an easy to use frailty measurement tool that better predicts postoperative mortality than age or comorbidities alone. As the rates of outpatient surgeries rise nationwide, we noted that most of the surgical frailty studies focus only on inpatient surgeries. Elective, outpatient surgery is generally considered low risk for complications and unplanned readmissions, however we hypothesized that for frail patients, it might not be.
Author Interviews, Education, Outcomes & Safety / 08.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Veronica Toffolutti PhD Postdoctoral researcher working with Professor David Stuckler Department of Sociology Bocconi University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Openness has been linked with better patient safety and better understanding of patients’ care goals. In addition, more open environments appear to be linked with positively ranked quality of teamwork, which in turns lead to better health care. Yet if the expected benefits are to be achieved, it is necessary to show that greater openness actually corresponds to improvements in performance or lower mortality rates. To the best of our knowledge our is the first study to show an association between hospital mortality and openness and more precisely one point increase in the standardized openness score leads to a decrease of 6.48% in the hospital mortality rates. With the term openness we refer to an environment in which communication among patients, staff members and managers is open and transparent. 
Author Interviews, Hospital Acquired, Infections / 07.05.2019

Genetically Fast-Changing Superbugs at Hospitals Require More Stringent Cleaning MethodsThe number of deaths caused by resistant bacteria is expected to reach 10 million by 2025, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. A highly resistant bacteria found in hospitals - Klebsiella pneumoniae - is now a big global threat, according to a recent (April, 2019) study published by researchers from University College London. Researchers have issued a warning that more stringent cleaning of infectious wards and new air disinfection protocols are key to battling the bug. This is because this bacteria possesses the ability to change genetically at an alarming rate, adapting and essentially nullifying the effect of all current antibiotics.
Author Interviews, Education, Health Care Systems / 14.03.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_47964" align="alignleft" width="200"]Nicholas A. Rattray, Ph.D.Research Scientist/InvestigatorVA HSR&D Center for Health Information and CommunicationImplementation Core, Precision Monitoring to Transform Care (PRISM) QUERIRichard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical CenterIndiana University Center for Health Services & Outcomes ResearchRegenstrief Institute, Inc.Indianapolis, Indiana Dr. Rattray[/caption] Nicholas A. Rattray, Ph.D. Research Scientist/Investigator VA HSR&D Center for Health Information and Communication Implementation Core, Precision Monitoring to Transform Care (PRISM) QUERI Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center Indiana University Center for Health Services & Outcomes Research Regenstrief Institute, Inc. Indianapolis, Indiana on behalf of study co-authors re: Rattray NA, Flanagan ME, Militello LG, Barach P, Franks Z, Ebright P, Rehman SU, Gordon HS, Frankel RM MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: End-of-shift handoffs pose a substantial patient safety risk. The transition of care from one doctor to another has been associated with delays in diagnosis and treatment, duplication of tests or treatment and patient discomfort, inappropriate care, medication errors and longer hospital stays with more laboratory testing. Handoff education varies widely in medical schools and residency training programs. Although there have been efforts to improve transfers of care, they have not shown meaningful improvement. Led for the last decade by Richard Frankel, Ph.D., a senior health scientist at Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, our team has studied how health practitioners communicate during end-of-shift handoffs. In this current study, funded by VA Health Services and Research Development, we conducted interviews with 35 internal medicine and surgery residents at three VA medical centers about a recent handoff and analyzed the responses. Our team also video-recorded and analyzed more than 150 handoffs. Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, this study explains how the person receiving the handoff can affect the interaction. Medical residents said they changed their delivery based on the doctor or resident who was taking over (i.e., training level, preference for fewer details, day or night shift). We found that handoff communication involves a complex combination of socio-technical information where residents balance relational factors against content and risk. It is not a mechanistic process of merely transferring clinical data but rather is based on learned habits of communication that are context-sensitive and variable, what we refer to as “recipient design”. In another paper led by Laura Militello, we focus on how residents cognitively prepare for handoffs. In the paper published in The Joint Commission Journal of Quality and Patient Safety®, researchers detailed the tasks involved in cognitively preparing for handoffs. A third paper, published in BMC Medical Education, reports on the limited training that physicians receive during their residency. Residents said they were only partially prepared for enacting handoffs as interns, and clinical experience and enacting handoffs actually taught them the most.  
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Opiods / 28.02.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_47704" align="alignleft" width="200"]Cory E. Cronin PhDDepartment of Social and Public HealthOhio University College of Health Sciences and ProfessionsAthens, Ohio Dr. Cronin[/caption] Cory E. Cronin PhD Department of Social and Public Health Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions Athens, Ohio MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: One of my primary areas of research is exploring how hospitals interact with their local communities. My own background is in health administration and sociology, and I have been working with colleagues in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine here at Ohio University (Berkeley Franz, Dan Skinner and Zelalem Haile) to conduct a series of studies looking at questions related to these hospital-community interactions. This particular question occurred to us because of the timeliness of the opioid epidemic. In analyzing data collected from the American Hospital Association and other sources, we identified that the number of hospitals offering in-patient and out-patient substance use disorder services actually dropped in recent years, in spite of the rising number of overdoses due to opioid use. Other factors seemed to matter more in regard to whether a hospital offered these services or not.
Author Interviews, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA, Nursing / 29.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_47212" align="alignleft" width="150"]Marianne Weiss DNSc RN READI study Principal Investigator Professor of Nursing and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare / Sister Rosalie Klein Professor of Women’s Health Marquette University College of Nursing Milwaukee Wi, 53201-1881 Dr. Weiss[/caption] Marianne Weiss DNSc RN READI study Principal Investigator Professor of Nursing and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare / Sister Rosalie Klein Professor of Women’s Health Marquette University College of Nursing Milwaukee Wi, 53201-1881 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our team of researchers has been studying the association of patient readiness for discharge and readmission for several years. We have previously documented that patients who had ‘low readiness’ on our Readiness for Hospital Discharge Scale were more likely to be readmitted. In this study we added structured protocols for discharge readiness assessment and nurse actions to usual discharge care practices to determine the optimal protocol configuration to achieve improved post-discharge utilization outcomes. In our primary analysis that included patients from a broad range of patient diagnoses, we did not find a significant effect on readmission from adding any of the discharge readiness assessment protocols. The patient sample came from Magnet hospitals, known for high quality care, and the average all-cause readmission rates were low (11.3%). In patients discharged from high-readmission units (>11.3%), one of the protocols was effective in reducing the likelihood of readmission. In this protocol, the nurse obtained the patients self-report of discharge readiness to inform the nurse’s discharge readiness assessment and actions in finalizing preparations for discharge. This patient-informed discharge readiness assessment protocol produced a nearly 2 percentage point reduction in readmissions. Not unexpectedly, in lower readmission settings, we did not see a reduction in readmission; not all readmissions are preventable. In the last phase of study, we informed nurses of a cut-off score for ‘low readiness’ and added a prescription for nurse action only in cases of ‘low readiness’; this addition to the protocol added burden to the nurses’ daily work and eliminated the beneficial effects, perhaps because it limited the nurse’s attention to only a subset of patients. 
Author Interviews, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA, Primary Care / 28.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Dawn Wiest, 7-day pledge after hospital admissionDawn Wiest, PhD Director, Action Research & Evaluation Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Understanding the role of care transitions after hospitalization in reducing avoidable readmissions, the Camden Coalition launched the 7-Day Pledge in 2014 in partnership with primary care practices in Camden, NJ to address patient and provider barriers to timely post-discharge primary care follow-up. To evaluate whether our program was associated with lower hospital readmissions, we used all-payer hospital claims data from five regional health systems. We compared readmissions for patients who had a primary care follow-up within seven days with similar patients who had a later or no follow-up using propensity score matching.
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems / 17.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: medicoreachLauren Williams Marketing Manager and  Research Analyst MedicoReach TwitterHandle: https://twitter.com/Lauren7321  MedicalResearch.com: What is the driving force behind the research and market study for estimating the hospitalist number in the US? Response: The existing physician’s database available in the industry comprises details that don’t specify the number of hospitalists in particular. As a result, it is turning out challenging to track and count the hospitalists amidst other specialties. There are a lot of incorrect estimations that are circulating, giving no clear picture. In a vast and growing industry like healthcare, there is no scope for wrong data as it can mislead others. Even the Physician Masterfile that the American Medical Association (AMA) offers do not cover the complete hospitalist population. This is because earlier the hospitalist specialty was not a part of the list of physicians. Hospitalists work as primary care providers specializing in inpatient medicine. They play a significant role, coordinating with specialist physicians and other healthcare professionals. As a caregiver, they provide quality hospital care and boosts efficiency through effective hospital resource allocation. And so, how can we let their presence go overlooked? Our research aimed to bring out their actual numbers before the industry. That is why our research team came up with the research and market study to fetch real facts. 
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Medicare, UCSF / 01.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43578" align="alignleft" width="150"]Andrew B. Bindman, MD Professor of Medicine PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies University of California San Francisco Dr. Bindman[/caption] Andrew B. Bindman, MD Professor of Medicine PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies University of California San Francisco MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use and impact of a payment code for transitional care management services which was implemented by Medicare in. The transition of patients from hospitals or skilled nursing facilities back to the community often involves a change in a patient’s health care provider and introduces risks in communication which can contribute to lapses in health care quality and safety. Transitional care management services include contacting the patient within 2 business days after discharge and seeing the patient in the office within 7-14 days. Medicare implemented payment for transitional care management services with the hope that this would increase the delivery of these services believing that they could reduce readmissions, reduce costs and improve health outcomes.
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA / 28.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42831" align="alignleft" width="163"]Dan Blumenthal, MD, MBA Assistant in Medicine, Division of Cardiology Massachusetts General Hospital Instructor in Medicine Harvard Medical School Dr. Blumenthal[/caption] Dan Blumenthal, MD, MBA Assistant in Medicine, Division of Cardiology Massachusetts General Hospital Instructor in Medicine Harvard Medical School  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Despite dramatic advances in the treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) over the past half-century, CVD remains a leading cause of death and health care spending in the United States (US) and worldwide. More than 2000 Americans die of CVD each day, and more than $200 billion dollars is spent on the treatment of CVD each year in the US By 2030, over 40% of the US population is projected to have some form of CVD, at a cost of $1 trillion to the US economy. The tremendous clinical and financial burden of cardiovascular illness has helped motivated policymakers to develop policy tools that have the potential to improve health care quality and curb spending.  Alternative payment models, and specifically bundled payments—lump sum payment for defined episodes of care which typically subsume an inpatient hospitalization and some amount of post-acute care—represent a promising tool for slowing health care spending and improving health care value. Despite broad interest in implementing bundled payments to achieve these aims, our collective understanding of the effects of bundled payments on .cardiovascular disease care quality and spending, and the factors associated with success under this payment model, are limited. Medicare’s Bundled Payments of Care Improvement (BPCI) is an ongoing voluntary, national pilot program evaluating bundled payments for 48 common conditions and procedures, including several common cardiovascular conditions and interventions.   In this study, we compared hospitals that voluntarily signed up for the four most commonly subscribed cardiac bundles—those for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and percutaneous coronary intervention—with surrounding control hospitals in order to gain some insight into the factors driving participation, and to assess whether the hospitals participating in these bundles were broadly representative of a diverse set of U.S. acute care hospitals. 
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Infections, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety / 13.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sarah L. Krein, PhD, RN Research Career Scientist VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Ann Arbor, MI  Sarah L. Krein, PhD, RN Research Career Scientist VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Ann Arbor, MI MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We conducted this study to better understand the challenges faced by health care personnel when trying to follow transmission based precaution practices while providing care for hospitalized patients.  We already know from other studies that there are breaches in practice but our team was interested in better understanding why and how those breaches (or failures) occur so we can develop better strategies to ensure the safety of patients and health care personnel.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, University of Pennsylvania / 04.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_40996" align="alignleft" width="138"]Eric T. Roberts, PhD Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Pittsburgh, PA 15261 Dr. Roberts[/caption] Eric T. Roberts, PhD Assistant Professor of Health Policy & Management University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Pittsburgh, PA 15261 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There is considerable interest nationally in reforming how we pay health care providers and in shifting from fee-for-service to value-based payment models, in which providers assume some economic risk for their patients’ costs and outcomes of care.  One new payment model that has garnered interest among policy makers is the global budget, which in 2010 Maryland adopted for rural hospitals.  Maryland subsequently expanded the model to urban and suburban hospitals in 2014.  Maryland’s global budget model encompasses payments to hospitals for inpatient, emergency department, and hospital outpatient department services from all payers, including Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers.  The intuition behind this payment model is that, when a hospital is given a fixed budget to care for the entire population it serves, it will have an incentive to avoid costly admissions and focus on treating patients outside of the hospital (e.g., in primary care practices).  Until recently, there has been little rigorous evidence about whether Maryland’s hospital global budget model met policy makers’ goals of reducing hospital use and strengthening primary care. Our Health Affairs study evaluated how the 2010 implementation of global budgets in rural Maryland hospitals affected hospital utilization among Medicare beneficiaries.  This study complements work our research group published in JAMA Internal Medicine (January 16, 2018) that examined the impact of the statewide program on hospital and primary care use, also among Medicare beneficiaries.
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cost of Health Care, Nursing, Outcomes & Safety, University of Pennsylvania / 16.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_29710" align="alignleft" width="200"]Dr Linda H Aiken PhD, FAAN, FRCN, RN Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing Professor of Sociology, School of Arts & Sciences Director, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research Philadelphia, PA 19104 Dr Linda H Aiken[/caption] Dr Linda H Aiken PhD, FAAN, FRCN, RN Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing Professor of Sociology, School of Arts & Sciences Director, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research Philadelphia, PA 19104 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The idea that adding lower skilled and lower wage caregivers to hospitals instead of increasing the number of professional nurses could save money without adversely affecting care outcomes is intuitively appealing to mangers and policymakers but evidence is lacking on whether this strategy is safe or saves money.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Hospital Readmissions / 10.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_28723" align="alignleft" width="182"]Kathleen Carey, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Health Law, Policy and Management School of Public Health Boston University Boston MA  02118 Dr. Kathleen Carey[/caption] Kathleen Carey, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Health Law, Policy and Management School of Public Health Boston University Boston MA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The ACA’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) imposes Medicare reimbursement penalties on hospitals with readmission rates for certain conditions if they exceed national averages. A number of observers have expressed serious concern over the program’s impact on safety-net hospitals, which serve a high proportion of low income patients who are more likely to be readmitted – often for reasons outside hospital control. Many have argued that the HRRP should adjust for socio-economic status. However, Medicare does not want to lower the standard of quality for these hospitals.
Author Interviews, Hand Washing, Hospital Acquired, JAMA, University of Michigan / 15.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lona Mody, MD, MS Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, School of Public Health University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Mody: Hand hygiene is considered to be the most important strategy to prevent infections and spread of drug resistant organisms. Surprisingly, all strategies and efforts have predominantly involved healthcare workers and that too mainly in acute care hospitals.  We are now facing a tsunami of an aging population in our hospitals, post-acute care facilities and long-term care facilities.  Hand hygiene falls off when patients are hospitalized compared to when they are at home.  So, we were very interested, first, in hand colonization in older patients who have recently been transferred from the acute care hospital to a post-acute care (PAC) facility for rehabilitation or other medical care before fully returning home. We were also interested in evaluating whether these organisms persisted. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Dr. Mody: We recruited and followed 357 patients (54.9 percent female with an average age of 76 years). The dominant hands of patients were swabbed at baseline when they were first enrolled in a post-acute care facility, at day 14 and then monthly for up to 180 days or until discharge. The study found:
  • To our surprise, nearly one-quarter (86 of 357) of patients had at least one multi-drug resistant organism on their hands when they were transferred from the hospital to the post-acute care facility
  • During follow-up, 34.2 percent of patients’ hands (122 of 357) were colonized with a resistant organism and 10.1 percent of patients (36 of 357) newly acquired one or more resistant organisms.
  • Overall, 67.2 percent of colonized patients (82 of 122) remained colonized at discharge from PAC.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety / 25.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anup Das Medical Scientist Training Program Department of Health Management and Policy University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently added a new measure of episode spending to the Hospital Value Based Purchasing program. Participation in this program allows hospitals to receive a financial bonus if they perform well on the included measures. This is the first spending measure in the program, and this change now incentivizes hospitals to improve their quality as well as their spending. The measure evaluates spending from three days before a hospitalization through 30 days post-discharge. In this study, we find that while high-cost hospitals had higher spending levels in each of the three components of an episode of care (pre-admission, index admission, and post-discharge), differences in post-discharge spending were the main determinants of hospital performance on this measure. High-cost hospitals spent on average $4,691 more than low-cost hospitals in post-discharge care. The majority of post-discharge spending comes from skilled nursing facility or readmission costs. Similarly, hospitals that did worse on this new measure of spending over time did so because of increases in their post-discharge spending.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Surgical Research / 16.10.2015

Richard S. Hoehn, MD Division of Transplant Surgery Department of Surgery, University of Cincinnati School of Medicine Cincinnati, OHMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Richard S. Hoehn, MD Division of Transplant Surgery Department of Surgery University of Cincinnati School of Medicine Cincinnati, OH Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hoehn: Safety-net hospitals are hospitals that either have a stated purpose of maintaining an “open door policy” to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay, or simply have a significantly high burden of patients with Medicaid or no insurance. As healthcare policy and reimbursement change to focus on both “quality” metrics as well as cost containment, these hospitals may find themselves in a precarious situation. Current literature suggests that increased safety-net burden corresponds to inferior surgical outcomes. If this is true, safety-net hospitals will have inferior outcomes and suffer more financial penalties than other centers. This decrease in resources may adversely affect patient care, leading to even worse outcomes and further financial penalties, potentially creating a downward spiral that exacerbates disparities in surgical care that already exist in our country. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Hoehn: Our study analyzed 9 major surgical operations using the University HealthSystem Consortium clinical database, which represents 95% of academic medical centers in the United States. We sought to determine the effect of patient and hospital characteristics on the inferior outcomes at safety-net hospitals. As expected, we found that safety-net hospitals had higher rates of patients who were of black race, of lowest socioeconomic status, had government insurance, had extreme severity of illness, and needed emergent operations. They also had the highest rates of post-operative mortality, 30-day readmissions, and highest costs associated with care. Next we performed a multivariate analysis controlling for patient age, race, socioeconomic status, and severity of illness, as well as hospital procedure-specific volume. Using this model, we found that the increased mortality and readmission rates at safety-net hospitals were somewhat reduced, but the increased costs were not affected. Safety-net hospitals still provided surgical care that was 23-35% more expensive, despite controlling for patient characteristics. This suggests that intrinsic hospital characteristics may be responsible for the increased costs at safety-net hospitals. To further investigate this finding, we analyzed Medicare Hospital Compare data and found that safety-net hospitals performed worse on Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) measures, had higher rates of reported surgical complications, and also had much slower measures of emergency department throughput (time from arrival to evaluation, treatment, admission, etc). This corresponded with our finding that hospital characteristics may be driving increased costs at safety-net hospitals.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, Long Term Care, Medicare / 11.06.2015

Yan S. Kim, MD PhD Delivery Science Fellow Division of Research Kaiser Permanente Northern California Oakland, CA 94612MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yan S. Kim, MD PhD Delivery Science Fellow Division of Research Kaiser Permanente Northern California Oakland, CA 94612 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kim: Long-term care hospitals first emerged in the 1980s as an alternative to lengthy acute-care hospital stays for patients with complex medical problems who need prolonged hospital-level care.  In 2002, Medicare changed its payment method for these facilities from cost-based to a lump sum per admission based on the diagnosis.  Under this system, which is still in place, Medicare pays these hospitals a higher rate for patients who stay a minimum number of days based on the patient's condition.  Shorter stays are paid much less and longer stays do not necessary generate higher reimbursements. Using Medicare data, we analyzed a national sample of patients who required prolonged mechanical ventilation – the most common, and among the most costly, conditions for patients in long-term care hospitals – to examine whether this payment policy has created incentives to base discharge decisions on payments.  We found that in the years after the policy’s implementation there was a substantial spike in the percentage of discharges on and immediately after the minimum-stay threshold was met, while very few patients were discharged before the threshold. By contrast, prior to 2002, discharges were evenly distributed around the day that later became the short-stay threshold.  These findings confirm that the current payment policy has created unintended incentives for long-term care hospitals to base the timing of patient discharges on payments and highlight how responsive these hospitals are to payment incentives.
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Electronic Records, JACC, Stroke / 11.05.2015

Dr. Karen E. Joynt, MD MPH Cardiovascular Division Brigham and Women's Hospital and VA Boston Healthcare System Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karen E. Joynt, MD MPH Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital and VA Boston Healthcare System Department of Health Policy and Management Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings? Dr. Joynt: While there is a great deal of optimism about the potential of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to improve health care, there is little national data examining whether hospitals that have implemented EHRs have higher-quality care or better patient outcomes.  We used national data on 626,473 patients with ischemic stroke to compare quality and outcomes between hospitals with versus without EHRs.  We found no difference in quality of care, discharge home (a marker of good functional status), or in-hospital mortality between hospital with versus without EHRs.  We did find that the chances of having a long length of stay were slightly lower in hospitals with EHRs than those without them.
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Medicare / 02.03.2015

Ann M. Sheehy, M.D., M.S. Associate Professor Division Head, Hospital Medicine University of Wisconsin Department of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ann M. Sheehy, M.D., M.S. Associate Professor Division Head, Hospital Medicine University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sheehy: Outpatient (observation) and inpatient status determinations are important for hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries. The Recovery Audit program, more commonly known as the RACs (Recovery Audit Contractors), is charged with surveillance and enforcement of such status determinations. Surveillance in the Medicare program is necessary, and Medicare fraud and abuse should not be tolerated. However, there are increasing concerns regarding RAC accuracy, auditor financial incentives, and the volume of audits and overpayment determinations auditors allege. We therefore studied Complex Medicare Part A RAC audits at 3 academic medical centers, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Utah, and Johns Hopkins, to determine the impact and trends of such audits. There was a nearly 300% increase in RAC overpayment determinations in just 2 years at the study hospitals. Each year, the hospitals won a greater percent of contested cases, winning 68.0% of cases with decisions in 2013. Two-thirds of all favorable decisions for the hospitals occurred in the discussion period. Because discussion is not considered part of the formal appeals process, this is omitted from reports of RAC accuracy. None of the overpayment determinations contested the need for the care delivered, rather contested the billing location, outpatient or inpatient. The hospitals averaged 5 FTE each to manage the audit and appeals process. Claims still in appeals had been in process for a mean of 555 days without decisions.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care / 13.02.2015

John Romley Ph.D Economist at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics Research Assistant Professor Sol Price School of Public Policy University of Southern California, Los Angeles.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: John Romley Ph.D Economist at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics Research Assistant Professor Sol Price School of Public Policy University of Southern California, Los Angeles. MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Romley: The need for better value in US health care is widely recognized. Existing evidence suggests that improvement in the productivity of American hospitals—that is, the output that hospitals produce from inputs such as labor and capital—has lagged behind that of other industries. However, previous studies have not adequately addressed quality of care or severity of patient illness. Our study, by contrast, adjusts for trends in the severity of patients’ conditions and health outcomes. We studied productivity growth among US hospitals in treating Medicare patients with heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia during 2002–11. We found that the rates of annual productivity growth were 0.78 percent for heart attack, 0.62 percent for heart failure, and 1.90 percent for pneumonia.
Author Interviews, Outcomes & Safety, UCSF / 23.10.2014

Barbara J. Drew, RN, PhD, FAAN, FAHA David Mortara Distinguished Professor in Physiological Nursing Research Clinical Professor of Medicine, Cardiology University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Physiological Nursing San Francisco, CA 94143-0610 MedicalResearch.com: Interview Barbara J. Drew, RN, PhD, FAAN, FAHA David Mortara Distinguished Professor in Physiological Nursing Research, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Cardiology University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Physiological Nursing San Francisco, CA 94143-0610 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Drew: Physiologic monitors used in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) are plagued with alarms that create a cacophony of sounds and visual alerts causing “alarm fatigue.” Alarm fatigue occurs when clinicians are desensitized by numerous alarms, many of which are false or clinically irrelevant. As a result, the cacophony of alarm sounds becomes “background noise” that is perceived as the normal working environment in the ICU. Importantly, alarms may be silenced at the central station without checking the patient or permanently disabled by clinicians who find the constant audible or textual messages bothersome. Disabling alarms creates an unsafe patient environment because a life-threatening event may be missed in this milieu of sensory overload. To date, there has not been a comprehensive investigation of the frequency, types, and accuracy of physiologic monitor alarms collected in a “real-world” ICU setting. For this reason, nurse and engineer scientists in the ECG Monitoring Research Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) designed a study to provide complete data on monitor alarms.
Author Interviews, End of Life Care, Erasmus / 15.10.2014

F.E. (Erica) Witkamp RN MSc Senior lecturer University of Applied Sciences Erasmus MC and Erasmus MC Cancer Institute Rotterdam, The Netherlands.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: F.E. (Erica) Witkamp RN MSc Senior lecturer University of Applied Sciences Erasmus MC and Erasmus MC Cancer Institute Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Response: We investigated the experiences of 249 bereaved relatives (response 51%) of patients who had died in the hospital, after a hospitalization of at least six hours. The main outcome measure was their global score of the quality of dying (QOD) on a 0-10 scale, with zero being “very poor” and ten “almost perfect”. Further, we assessed multiple experiences in the last days of life, such as symptom burden, preparedness for life closure, awareness of impending death, and care in the last days of life. We analyzed which of these factors was related to the quality of dying score, and subsequently whether the related factors represented specific domains of the dying phase. Relatives rated the overall score of QOD on average at 6.3 (sd 2.7) with a range from 0-10. During the last day(s) of life, 26% of the patients, and 49% of the relatives had been fully aware of imminent death. In the end 39% of the patients and 50% of the relatives had said goodbye; 77% of the patients had died in the presence of a relative. According to relatives patients had suffered moderately to severely from on average 7 out of 22 symptoms. In 53% relatives reported that in the last 24 hours symptoms had sufficiently been alleviated; efforts to control symptoms had been sufficient in 75%. In 64% relatives had been informed by the physician about the imminence of death, and in 70% they were satisfied about their involvement in decision making. In 55% relatives had experienced sufficient attention to individual preferences and wishes, and in 70% hospital facilities had been sufficient. Patients had been sufficiently affirmed as a person in 63%.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care / 08.09.2014

Steffie Woolhandler MD MPH Professor at the School of Public Health and Hunter College, CUNY; Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Cambridge HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Steffie Woolhandler MD MPH Professor School of Public Health and Hunter College, CUNY; Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Cambridge Hospital Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Woolhandler: In 2011, U.S. hospitals spent $215 billion on billing and administration. Meanwhile, other countries spent far less. None of the other seven countries we studied spent even half as much as the U.S., and they all have modern, high quality hospitals. While we spent nearly $700 per capita on hospital paperwork, Scotland and Canada spent less than $200. This means that if U.S. hospitals ran as efficiently as Canada’s, the average family of four would save $2,000 annually on health care.
Author Interviews, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Outcomes & Safety / 20.08.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sosena Kebede, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine Associate Faculty, the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Faculty, Department of Health Policy and Management and Baltimore, MD 21287Sosena Kebede, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine Associate Faculty, the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Faculty, Department of Health Policy and Management and Baltimore, MD 21287 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Kebede: There were 3 main findings in this study: 1.       Patients’ understanding of aspects of their hospital care is suboptimal on the domains of knowledge of diagnoses, indications for the medications they take and the types of procedures/tests they get. Some forms of poor shared understanding could have potentially serious implications for their health and for future care such as identifying a prescribed antidepressant as a blood thinner or mistaking an echocardiogram a left heart catheterization or thinking a liver cyst is a liver cancer. Other forms of poor shared understanding such as not accurately identifying why a procedure is done or what the results of the procedure show (a finding not discussed in the research letter) may seem less consequential  but raise the issue of informed consent, patient empowerment and may alsoraise questions about patient and physician behavior towards appropriate use of in-patient procedures. Some of the questions we could ask here include: would patients demand more or less procedures if they had better understanding of what the procedures entail, and why they are beingordered? Conversely, would physicians recommend more or less of in-patient procedures, when they encounter patients whose understanding of procedure indications are optimal?
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA / 22.07.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Brian M. Wong, MD, FRCPC Staff Physician, Division of General Internal Medicine Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine Director, Continuing Education & Quality Improvement Associate Director, Centre for Quality Improvement & Patient Safety (C-QuIPS) Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Lisa Richardson, MD., MA, FRCPC Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Division of General Internal Medicine, University Health Network, HoPingKong Centre for Excellence in Education and Practice, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Answer: Our study sought to characterize how many clinically important issues that occur during the overnight on-call period were handed over and discussed by the on-call resident with the daytime medical team. For example, if a patient developed chest pain in the middle of the night and the on-call resident evaluated the patient, did the resident then 'handover' this issue to the team the next morning so that they could follow up and make sure that the patient receives timely care? In our study, we found that approximately 40% of these issues did not get handed over. This finding was consistent across 2 major Canadian academic teaching hospitals.
Author Interviews, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA / 17.06.2014

Greg D. Sacks, MD, MPH Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Greg D. Sacks, MD, MPH Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of this study? Dr. Sacks: This study evaluated the all-cause readmissions measure developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to penalize hospitals for unplanned readmissions. By evaluating readmissions of surgical patients at a single academic medical center, we found that the readmissions measure was able to identify only a third of the planned readmissions and mislabeled the remaining two thirds of planned readmissions as unplanned. This discrepancy was a result of the measure’s reliance on administrative claims data, which disagreed in 31% of cases with clinical data abstracted from the patient’s chart. Also, almost a third (27%) of the readmissions in this study were for reasons unrelated to the original hospitalization.
Annals Internal Medicine, General Medicine, Hospital Readmissions / 04.06.2014

Cindy Feltner, MD, MPH Assistant Professor, Division of General Medicine University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill RTI- UNC Evidence-based Practice CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Cindy Feltner, MD, MPH Assistant Professor, Division of General Medicine University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill RTI- UNC Evidence-based Practice Center MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Feltner: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the efficacy, comparative effectiveness, and harms of transitional care interventions to reduce readmission and mortality rates for adults hospitalized with heart failure. We included a broad range of intervention types applicable to adults transitioning from hospital to home that aimed to prevent readmissions. Although 30-day readmissions are the focus of quality measures, we also included readmissions measured over 3 to 6 months because these are common, costly, and potentially preventable. Forty-seven trials were included, most enrolled adults with moderate to severe heart failure and a mean age of 70 years. We found that interventions providing multiple home visits soon after hospital discharge can reduce 30-day readmission rates. Both home-visiting programs and multidisciplinary heart failure clinics visits can improve mortality and reduce all-cause readmission in the six months after hospitalization. Telephone support interventions do not appear to reduce all-cause readmission, but can improve survival and reduce readmission related to heart failure. Programs focused on telemonitoring or providing education only did not appear to reduce readmission or improve survival.