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Doctoral candidate student , HARVARD UNIVERSITY


In recent years, improving primary care practices and delivering high quality care have continued to be fundamental interests of policy makers and healthcare organizations in the United States. Efficient and effective primary care practices that meet the needs of patients are essential for building a highly functioning healthcare delivery system. In contrast to the characteristics of inpatient care settings in hospitals and surgical suites, the care in ambulatory settings usually proceeds asynchronously over prolonged periods of time, with demands often complex and quickly-evolving. Therefore, primary care practices commonly face high risk and challenges on several fronts, including high frequency of patient and provider turnover, diverse and complex patient demands, lapses in follow-up with patients, and reduced patient adherence to optimal treatment plans. Further issues include addressing the needs for coordination among providers, not only within the same facility but also across different facilities, increasing expectations of providers for patient engagement in their care-seeking, workforce shortages, and high risk of primary care physician burnout. Focusing on quality improvement, there have been wide-ranging explorations and discussions on transforming the organization and delivery of primary care to pursue strategies that improve services to patients and enhance the experiences of care providers in primary care practices. In this study, we employ qualitative comparative analysis method (QCA) to explore the organizational features of primary care facilities and how they are associated with the experience of caregivers, with a goal of enhancing the quality of care and patient outcomes in care delivery given existing resources. To our knowledge, QCA has, until now, been in limited use in health services research (HSR) studies, although a few researchers have endorsed QCA to help with HSR studies, because it accomodates smaller sample sizes and captures high levels of data when a limited number of sites are feasible to be studied (Marcus Thygeson et al., 2012; McAlearney et al., 2016; Weiner, Jacobs, Minasian, & Good, 2012). Our study will add to the growing literature of the utility of QCA method for organizational studies in HSR.


Use of the Internet and e-mail for health care information: results from a national survey.

Abstract: The Internet has attracted considerable attention as a means to improve health and health care delivery, but it is not clear how prevalent Internet use for health care really is or what impact it has on health care utilization. Available estimates of use and impact vary widely. Without accurate estimates of use and effects, it is difficult to focus policy discussions or design appropriate policy activities.To measure the extent of Internet use for health care among a representative sample of the US population, to examine the prevalence of e-mail use for health care, and to examine the effects that Internet and e-mail use has on users' knowledge about health care matters and their use of the health care system.Survey conducted in December 2001 and January 2002 among a sample drawn from a research panel of more than 60 000 US households developed and maintained by Knowledge Networks. Responses were analyzed from 4764 individuals aged 21 years or older who were self-reported Internet users.Self-reported rates in the past year of Internet and e-mail use to obtain information related to health, contact health care professionals, and obtain prescriptions; perceived effects of Internet and e-mail use on health care use.Approximately 40% of respondents with Internet access reported using the Internet to look for advice or information about health or health care in 2001. Six percent reported using e-mail to contact a physician or other health care professional. About one third of those using the Internet for health reported that using the Internet affected a decision about health or their health care, but very few reported impacts on measurable health care utilization; 94% said that Internet use had no effect on the number of physician visits they had and 93% said it had no effect on the number of telephone contacts. Five percent or less reported use of the Internet to obtain prescriptions or purchase pharmaceutical products.Although many people use the Internet for health information, use is not as common as is sometimes reported. Effects on actual health care utilization are also less substantial than some have claimed. Discussions of the role of the Internet in health care and the development of policies that might influence this role should not presume that use of the Internet for health information is universal or that the Internet strongly influences health care utilization.

Pub.: 15 May '03, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

Workforce perceptions of hospital safety culture: development and validation of the patient safety climate in healthcare organizations survey.

Abstract: To describe the development of an instrument for assessing workforce perceptions of hospital safety culture and to assess its reliability and validity.Primary data collected between March 2004 and May 2005. Personnel from 105 U.S. hospitals completed a 38-item paper and pencil survey. We received 21,496 completed questionnaires, representing a 51 percent response rate.Based on review of existing safety climate surveys, we developed a list of key topics pertinent to maintaining a culture of safety in high-reliability organizations. We developed a draft questionnaire to address these topics and pilot tested it in four preliminary studies of hospital personnel. We modified the questionnaire based on experience and respondent feedback, and distributed the revised version to 42,249 hospital workers.We randomly divided respondents into derivation and validation samples. We applied exploratory factor analysis to responses in the derivation sample. We used those results to create scales in the validation sample, which we subjected to multitrait analysis (MTA).We identified nine constructs, three organizational factors, two unit factors, three individual factors, and one additional factor. Constructs demonstrated substantial convergent and discriminant validity in the MTA. Cronbach's alpha coefficients ranged from 0.50 to 0.89.It is possible to measure key salient features of hospital safety climate using a valid and reliable 38-item survey and appropriate hospital sample sizes. This instrument may be used in further studies to better understand the impact of safety climate on patient safety outcomes.

Pub.: 14 Sep '07, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

Relationship of safety climate and safety performance in hospitals.

Abstract: To examine the relationship between measures of hospital safety climate and hospital performance on selected Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs).Primary data from a 2004 survey of hospital personnel. Secondary data from the 2005 Medicare Provider Analysis and Review File and 2004 American Hospital Association's Annual Survey of Hospitals.A cross-sectional study of 91 hospitals.Negative binomial regressions used an unweighted, risk-adjusted PSI composite as dependent variable and safety climate scores and controls as independent variables. Some specifications included interpersonal, work unit, and organizational safety climate dimensions. Others included separate measures for senior managers and frontline personnel's safety climate perceptions.Hospitals with better safety climate overall had lower relative incidence of PSIs, as did hospitals with better scores on safety climate dimensions measuring interpersonal beliefs regarding shame and blame. Frontline personnel's perceptions of better safety climate predicted lower risk of experiencing PSIs, but senior manager perceptions did not.The results link hospital safety climate to indicators of potential safety events. Some aspects of safety climate are more closely related to safety events than others. Perceptions about safety climate among some groups, such as frontline staff, are more closely related than perceptions in other groups.

Pub.: 31 Jan '09, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

An empirical assessment of boarding and quality of care: delays in care among chest pain, pneumonia, and cellulitis patients.

Abstract: As hospital crowding has increased, more patients have ended up boarding in the emergency department (ED) awaiting their inpatient beds. To the best of our knowledge, no study has compared the quality of care of boarded and nonboarded patients.This study sought to examine whether being a boarded patient and boarding longer were associated with more delays, medication errors, and adverse events among ED patients admitted with chest pain, pneumonia, or cellulitis.This study was a retrospective cohort design in which data collection was accomplished via medical record review from two urban teaching hospitals. Patients admitted with chest pain, pneumonia, or cellulitis between August 2004 and January 2005 were eligible for inclusion. Our outcomes measures were: 1) delays in administration of home medications, cardiac enzyme tests, partial thromboplastin time (PTT), and antibiotics; 2) medication errors; and 3) adverse events or near misses. Primary independent variables were boarded status, boarding time, and boarded time interval. Multiple logistic regression models controlling for patient, ED, and hospital characteristics were used.A total of 1,431 patient charts were included: 811 with chest pain, 387 with pneumonia, and 233 with cellulitis. Boarding time was associated with an increased odds of home medication delays (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05 to 1.10), as were boarded time intervals of 12, 18, and 24 hours. Boarding time also was associated with lower odds of having a late cardiac enzyme test (AOR = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.88 to 0.97).Boarding was associated with home medication delays, but fewer cardiac enzyme test delays. Boarding was not associated with delayed PTT checks, antibiotic administration, medication errors, or adverse events/near misses. These findings likely reflect the inherent resources of the ED and the inpatient units.

Pub.: 23 Jun '11, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

From striving to thriving: systems thinking, strategy, and the performance of safety net hospitals.

Abstract: Safety net hospitals (SNH) have, on average, experienced declining financial margins and faced an elevated risk of closure over the past decade. Despite these challenges, not all SNHs are weakening and some are prospering. These higher-performing SNHs provide substantial care to safety net populations and produce sustainable financial returns.Drawing on the alternative structural positioning and resource-based views, we explore strategic management as a source of performance differences across SNHs.We employ a mixed-method design, blending quantitative and qualitative data and analysis. We measure financial performance using hospital operating margin and quantitatively evaluate its relationship with a limited set of well-defined structural positions. We further evaluate these structures and also explore the internal resources of SNHs based on nine in-depth case studies developed from site visits and extensive interviews.Quantitative results suggest that structural positions alone are not related to performance. Comparative case studies suggest that higher-performing SNH differ in four respects: (1) coordinating patient flow across the care continuum, (2) engaging in partnerships with other providers, (3) managing scope of services, and (4) investing in human capital. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model of strategic action related to systems thinking--the ability to see wholes and interrelationships rather than individual parts alone.Our exploratory findings suggest the need to move beyond generic strategies alone and acknowledge the importance of underlying managerial capabilities. Specifically, our findings suggest that effective strategy is a function of both the internal resources (e.g., managers' systems-thinking capability) and structural positions (e.g., partnerships) of organizations. From this perspective, framing resources and positioning as distinct alternatives misses the nuances of how strategic advantage is actually achieved.

Pub.: 01 Jun '12, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

An exploration of safety climate in nursing homes.

Abstract: Although nursing homes provide complex care requiring attention to safety, research on safety climate in nursing homes is limited. Our study assessed differences in attitudes about safety among nursing home personnel and piloted a new survey, specifically designed for the nursing home context.Drawing on previous safety climate surveys for hospitals and nursing homes, researchers developed the Survey on Resident Safety in Nursing Homes and administered it March to June 2008 to frontline caregivers and managers in 8 randomly selected Massachusetts nursing homes. Our sample consisted of 751 employees, including all full-time, direct-care staff and managers from participating facilities. First, we performed factor analysis and determined Cronbach alphas for the Survey on Resident Safety in Nursing Homes. Then, we described facilities' safety climate and variation by personnel category and among facilities by calculating the proportion of responses that were strongly positive by item, personnel category, and nursing home.Of 432 respondents (57% response), 29% gave their nursing home an excellent rating overall. Scores varied by personnel category and home: 51% of senior managers gave an excellent safety grade versus 26% of nursing assistants; the range in top safety grades among nursing homes was 30 percentage points.Safety climate varied substantially among this small sample of nursing homes and by personnel category; managers had more positive perceptions about safety than frontline workers. Efforts to measure safety climate in nursing homes should include the full range of staff at a facility and comparisons among staff categories to provide a full understanding for decision making and to promote targeted response to improve resident safety.

Pub.: 21 Jul '12, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

Coordination within medical neighborhoods: Insights from the early experiences of Colorado patient-centered medical homes.

Abstract: The term "medical neighborhood" refers to relationships that patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) seek to establish with other providers to facilitate coordinated patient care. Yet, how PCMHs can accomplish this coordination is not well understood.Drawing upon organizational theory (; ; ), we explored how PCMHs use coordination mechanisms to build and optimize their medical neighborhoods.We used mixed methods, blending data collected via interviews and surveys with practice leaders and care coordinators at 30 months after a PCMH collaborative intervention in Colorado as well as surveys from all providers from 13 PCMHs before and 30 months after the intervention. We used thematic analysis to understand the role and use of coordination mechanisms by PCMHs and changes in the ability to coordinate and deliver care continuity.PCMHs drew on four coordination mechanisms to build relationships with their medical neighbors: interorganizational routines to improve reliability of information flow; information connectivity to facilitate continuity and safe care; boundary spanners to integrate care across silos; and communication, negotiation, and decision mechanisms to introduce shared accountability. When providers were fairly confident of the patient's diagnosis and management required sequential interactions (such as tests or procedures), PCMHs tended to coordinate care through interorganizational routines and information connectivity. When a diagnosis was less certain and required reciprocal interaction (i.e., consultation), PCMHs employed boundary spanners and communication, negotiation, and decision mechanisms.Use of coordination mechanisms by PCMHs can help to improve care coordination in medical neighborhoods. All four mechanisms appear to be useful. The optimal mix of coordination mechanisms requires attention to patient context. Successfully building medical neighborhoods also requires meta-leaders, collaboration competencies, and high-quality relationships between providers in primary care, specialty care, and hospitals.

Pub.: 11 Aug '15, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

Integrating: A managerial practice that enables implementation in fragmented health care environments.

Abstract: How some organizations improve while others remain stagnant is a key question in health care research. Studies identifying how organizations can implement improvement despite barriers are needed, particularly in primary care.This inductive qualitative study examines primary care clinics implementing improvement efforts in order to identify mechanisms that enable implementation despite common barriers, such as lack of time and fragmentation across stakeholder groups.Using an embedded multiple case study design, we leverage a longitudinal data set of field notes, meeting minutes, and interviews from 16 primary care clinics implementing improvement over 15 months. We segment clinics into those that implemented more versus those that implemented less, comparing similarities and differences. We identify interpersonal mechanisms promoting implementation, develop a conceptual model of our key findings, and test the relationship with performance using patient surveys conducted pre-/post-implementation.Nine clinics implemented more successfully over the study period, whereas seven implemented less. Successfully implementing clinics exhibited the managerial practice of integrating, which we define as achieving unity of effort among stakeholder groups in the pursuit of a shared and mutually developed goal. We theorize that integrating is critical in improvement implementation because of the fragmentation observed in health care settings, and we extend theory about clinic managers' role in implementation. We identify four integrating mechanisms that clinic managers enacted: engaging groups, bridging communication, sensemaking, and negotiating. The mean patient survey results for integrating clinics improved by 0.07 units over time, whereas the other clinics' survey scores declined by 0.08 units on a scale of 5 (p = .02).Our research explores an understudied element of how clinics can implement improvement despite barriers: integrating stakeholders within and outside the clinic into the process. It provides clinic managers with an actionable path for implementing improvement.

Pub.: 17 Jun '16, Pinned: 27 Aug '17

Primary Care Collaboration to Improve Diagnosis and Screening for Colorectal Cancer.

Abstract: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer death, reducible by screening and early diagnosis, yet many patients fail to receive recommended screening. As part of an academic improvement collaborative, 25 primary care practices worked to improve CRC screening and diagnosis.The project featured triannual learning sessions, monthly conference calls, practice coach support, and monthly reporting. The project phases included literature review and interviews with national leaders/organizations, development of driver diagrams to identify key factors and change ideas, project launch and practice team planning, and a practice improvement phase.The project activities included (1) inventory of barriers and best practices, (2) driver diagram to drive improvements, (3) list of changes to try, (4) compilation of lessons learned, and (5) five key changes to optimize screening and follow-up. Practices leveraged prior transformation efforts to track patients for screening and follow-up during and between office visits. By mapping processes, testing changes, and collecting data, sites targeted opportunities to improve quality, safety, efficiency, and patient and care team experience. Successful change interventions centered around partnering with gastroenterology, engaging leadership, leveraging registries and health information technology, promoting alternative screening options, and partnering with and supporting patients. Several practices achieved improvement in screening rates, while others demonstrated no change from baseline during the 10-month testing and implementation phase (July 2014-April 2015).The collaborative effectively engaged teams in a broad set of process improvements with key lessons learned related to barriers, information technology challenges, outreach challenges/strategies, and importance of stakeholder and patient engagement.

Pub.: 27 Jun '17, Pinned: 27 Aug '17