One of the goals of Envision Healthcare’s landmark merger was to prove that by integrating multiple services at a hospital or health system, clinicians could raise the standard for operational excellence and clinical quality, saving hospitals money and improving the patient experience. The challenges to accomplishing this goal are many, given the variance across technology, patient flow and contracts. However, through its newly formed Patient Safety Organization (PSO), Envision Healthcare is making progress on this goal, focusing first on the topic of improving the quality and reliability of patient handoffs.

“We know from peer-reviewed studies that errors are prone to occur when patients transition from one service to another, or one venue to another,” said Gerald Maccioli, M.D., MBA, FCCM, FASA, Chief Quality Officer, Envision Healthcare. “With that understanding, patient handoffs are a great opportunity to improve patient safety.”

The frequency of errors resulting from patient handoffs and related communication is alarming and of concern to every healthcare professional. The Joint Commission has found that approximately 80 percent of sentinel events occur due to miscommunication between healthcare professionals during patient transitions of care (Lee Ann Reisenberg, 2012).

Clinical and operational errors clearly affect our patients and their families and may have devastating impacts on our clinicians. For Envision and its hospital and health system partners, patient safety errors directly affect the bottom line by consuming extra resources, time and money, making continuous quality improvement in everyone’s best interest.

“To be able to improve quality in individual specialties is great, but to be able to improve quality across multiple specialties is really incredible, and I’m excited that we’re in that position,” Dr. Maccioli said.

“In line with The Joint Commission requirements regarding structured communication between healthcare providers during transitions of care, we hope to implement a comprehensive guide to handoffs across all of our service lines, with education specific to the most common issues in each department,” said Joshua Bloomstone, M.D., MSc, FASA, CSSGB, CLS, Southwest Regional Medical Director for Quality Services, Envision Physician Services.

While there are dozens of specialty-specific handoff protocols and tools in the medical and patient safety literature, Envision’s goal is to define, design and implement the first evidence-based, multidisciplinary handoff process and educational toolkit focusing on patient handoffs within and between specialties. Dr. Bloomstone explained, “Handoffs may easily be standardized within a given specialty, but when anesthesiologists and surgeons hand off a patient to hospital medicine or intensive care, it is crucial to ensure key specialty-specific concerns are communicated to the next level of care in a standardized fashion.”  

Envision Healthcare’s Chief Innovation Officer, Kirk Jensen, M.D., said, “The implications for this initiative are expansive, potentially impacting every Envision Healthcare patient and service line, from AMSURG’s ambulatory surgery centers to emergency medicine and neonatology.”

Watch for more news from this exciting initiative as Envision Healthcare finds new ways to raise the standard across its diverse services and solutions.

Envision Healthcare Center for Quality and Patient Safety Is Listed as a Patient Safety Organization