Conversations About Safety

New website for patients deciphers Johns Hopkins’ patient safety and quality performance efforts.

Published in Dome - July/August 2015

When Colleen Caroll’s husband became a patient at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in 2012, she knew he was in good hands. The hospital had a reputation for excel­lent care. But there were still several scary unknowns. Would staff members wash their hands before caring for her husband? Would the doctor clearly explain how to take any new medications? Would someone tell her how to care for her husband once they got home?

Now Johns Hopkins Medicine provides a resource for answering such questions. The Patient Safety and Quality website, introduced in May, gives consumers important information about the health system’s qual­ity of care and the patient experience, allowing them to understand the institution’s quality of care performance scores and helping them draw their own conclusions about each hospital’s performance.

The site shares how Johns Hopkins Medicine is work­ing to continuously improve its performance on five initial safety issues: the patient experience, infection rates, hand hygiene, hospital readmissions and standard processes of care known as core measures. Information about the institution’s five adult inpatient hospitals and home health care service focuses on how well each entity provides evidence-based care.

“This site is about our patients and the communities we serve. Our goal is to build relationships and trust, rather than just share data,” says Matt Austin, the proj­ect’s leader and a faculty member with the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

One innovative feature offers a portrait of trends over time. Consumers can view three years’ worth of perfor­mance data to track each hospital’s progress and learn how it compares to national and state averages.

“What struck me is how staff members narrowed in on an area like hygiene and hand-washing, and how the data showed that they actually improved their compli­ance,” says Caroll, now a member of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Patient and Family Advisory Council.

The project took more than two years and enlisted quality experts, graphic designers, Web strategists, com­municators and data analysts from the health system’s five adult inpatient hospitals and home health care group. More than 40 former patients and family mem­bers, including Caroll, advised the team and reviewed the site for ease of use and functionality. The final prod­uct allows patients and families to review data and learn about the ways frontline clinical staff members support safety and quality.

Although the site just launched, the Armstrong Insti­tute is already hard at work keeping the data relevant. Current plans include adding other measures, such as pediatric quality data, information about commu­nity physicians’ performance and the amount of common surgical procedures per­formed annually at each hospital.