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Hopkins Medicine Magazine - At the Center of Care

Hopkins Medicine Winter 2013

At the Center of Care

By: Dean/CEO Paul B. Rothman
Date: February 1, 2013

At the Center of Care

From the development of life-saving cancer treatments, to breakthroughs in heart surgery, to the miracles of organ transplantation, academic medicine has a proud tradition of discovery that has dramatically improved our health.

In our passion to find the next cure or life-extending treatment, it’s our goal that we give patients—and their families—a voice in care. Here at Johns Hopkins, we have identified this issue as one of the six “mission imperatives” of the new strategic plan for Johns Hopkins Medicine, a plan that I’ll be sharing with you soon in more depth. We are committed to nothing less than becoming the national leader in the science, teaching, and provision of patient- and family-centered care.

One catalyst of these efforts is our Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, launched in 2011 and led by renowned patient safety expert Peter Pronovost, who lost his own father to a medical error. (Read more about the Institute’s initiatives in “Safety First,” p. 24.) The Armstrong Institute—which brings together more than 100 core faculty members from the schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, and Engineering, and the Applied Physics Lab—recently garnered a $9.4 million grant from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which will focus on hospital intensive care units (ICUs).

Improving patient safety in the ICU relies, in part, on empowering patients and their families to act as an integral part of the care team. Along those lines, one current project under study at Hopkins involves giving family members in the ICU a tablet that shows what therapies and procedures the patient should be receiving and whether they’ve been completed.

Our patient safety initiatives won’t focus just on the ICU, or even solely on the hospital. We intend to become the safest health care organization in the world by transforming the delivery of care across the clinical continuum.

With most of the health care problems we experience, the time we actually spend inside a hospital is minimal. The “before and after” consumes a much bigger chunk: visits to our primary care physician, referral to a specialist, testing, outpatient procedures, intermediate care after a hospitalization, rehabilitation, home care.

 It’s at these points of exchange when discontinuity of care can lead to mistakes that harm a patient. A medication is overlooked by one provider, for instance, or perhaps added without knowledge of contraindicated conditions.

Our goal is to develop a safe and fully integrated continuum of care for Johns Hopkins patients that will carry them seamlessly across the health care continuum—from their first appointment with a primary care physician to their discharge from home care services.

Key to these efforts is our new electronic medical records system, Epic, which will roll out here in April with a series of launches that will stretch into 2016. By fully integrating medical records across our health system into one central database, Epic will help us to deliver the best possible care to our patients, and improve communication and teamwork between our providers. It marks an important stage in our mission to provide the best patient- and family-centered care.

Perhaps the best thing about Epic is that patients love it. For one thing, all Hopkins providers can work together from the same set of records, ensuring continuity of care. And MyChart, Epic’s patient portal, gives patients access into part of their medical records and also provides a secure way to communicate with their care teams.

Needless to say, patient safety will be strengthened with this system. For example, Epic prompts physicians to avoid potential drug interactions and improper medication dosages. And soon, tracking patients as they are treated at our different hospitals will be easier than ever.

I’m proud that we are coming at this issue of patient- and family-centered care from a tradition of strength, which can be traced back to our founding mission. In linking Johns Hopkins Hospital and the School of Medicine, and situating the Hospital among Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods, philanthropist Mr. Johns Hopkins put a premium on meeting the needs of local families.

Nearly 125 years later, we’re thrilled to take the lead here at Hopkins in creating new systems and protocols that will improve patient safety by putting patients and their families first. *

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