How Penn Medicine empowers residents to drive quality improvement, patient safety

At Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine, medical residents are a driving force behind systemwide quality improvement and patient safety initiatives, according to a blog post on the AMA Wire.

Jennifer Myers, MD, a professor of clinical medicine and director of the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety at Penn, started looking for a way to engage learners in quality improvement work after hearing about improvement ideas from residents.

"We also had the health system's quality and safety leaders who were saying we need to make changes on the front lines to improve quality, and a lot of the processes involve residents," Dr. Myers said. "These two silos just weren't talking to each other. So we came up with a way to connect residents with interest in an area [of quality improvement] to the institution."

Penn established a healthcare leadership track focused on quality improvement and patient safety in 2012. The program, led by Dr. Myers and Penn professor of clinical medicine Neha Patel, MD, is a two-year pathway available to any Penn resident.

Residents go through a core curriculum in which they learn from Penn's CMO or chief nursing officer. They are then put in a clinical microsystem where they can assess a unit's quality improvement needs on the front line.

Penn has seen systemwide changes from the 40-plus projects participants have completed during their two years of study. Changes include a patient safety project that cut 30-day readmissions and catheter complications; a value improvement project that cut unneeded daily labs by 10 percent; and a project that improved handoffs between triage and the hospital setting for women in labor.

"While we were creating a pipeline of physician leaders in healthcare quality improvement delivery science, it's important to emphasize that the spillover effects from these programs have been just as impactful," Dr. Myers said.

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