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Dome - Staying Attuned to Patient Care

Dome December 2013

Staying Attuned to Patient Care

By: Ronald R. Peterson, President, The Johns Hopkins Hospitals and Health System, Executive Vice President, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Date: December 2, 2013


Ronald R. Peterson
Ronald R. Peterson

Johns Hopkins Medicine has immense reservoirs of scientific research, advanced technologies and innovative therapies to offer our patients—but if we’re unable to give them the compassionate and meaningful care that they and their families deserve, then all of our science, technologies and therapies are for naught.

That is why being the national leader in the safety, science, teaching and provision of patient- and family-centered care is among the key priorities of our new strategic plan. We are committed to returning, again and again, to our basic belief that we can, and must, make a difference in the experience that our patients have. That dedication to our patients ultimately defines us as an institution, as compassionate healers and as human beings.

Thanks to the generosity of former Johns Hopkins Medicine board chairman C. Michael Armstrong and his wife, Anne, in creating the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, and to the internationally acclaimed patient safety and quality care research and initiatives of Dr. Peter Pronovost, the Armstrong Institute’s first director, Hopkins is recognized as an emerging leader in this field.

In October, the Armstrongs endowed a new chair, of which Dr. Pronovost will be the inaugural holder.

Peter’s work also has captured the attention of the San Francisco-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Last year, it gave the Armstrong Institute a $9.4 million grant to focus on eradicating preventable harm in our incredibly complex intensive care units (ICUs). As an article on the Armstrong Institute’s Project Emerge in this issue of Dome explains in more detail, Peter—an anesthesiologist who spends many hours in the ICU—is taking a systems engineering approach to integrating technology and improving workflow processes while also addressing the concerns of families who have loved ones in our ICUs.

Indeed, ever since the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center created a Patient and Family Advisory Council in 2007, we have invited families to participate in forums that address patient care problems and develop ideas to correct them. We have largely eliminated the old “visiting hours” restrictions so that families can visit our units 24/7, and we have begun allowing family members to take part in physician rounds. We also permit them to assist with hands-on caregiving in a limited, carefully monitored way.

These efforts have had positive results. In the latest Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCHAPs) survey, a nationwide public accounting of patients’ satisfaction with hospital services, The Johns Hopkins Hospital improved its scores in such areas as communication with physicians, communication with nurses, explanations of new medicines and pain management. We score well above the national average in many domains, and we look quite good among academic medical centers. However, there is always room for improvement, not just at The Johns Hopkins Hospital but at our other hospitals as well.

Since our beginnings 125 years ago, we have been a research-intensive institution with multiple missions. Because of our tripartite focus on research and teaching as well as patient care, we haven’t always been as patient- and family-centered as we now strive to be. We’re paying more attention to the patient’s actual experience—not just the technical, clinical outcome achieved—and the service our patients and their families receive when they’re with us. Patients and their families should expect nothing less from the ##1 hospital in the nation, and neither should we.

Ronald R. Peterson

President, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System

Executive Vice President, Johns Hopkins Medicine

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