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  1. Benchmarking Patient Complaints Data across Ontario Hospitals: University Health Network Invites Collaboration

  2. Mixed Gender Wards: What Does the Evidence Indicate?

  3. Patient Relations, Office of the Ombudsman Annual Report - April 1, 2008 - March 31, 2009

  4. Ombudsman for a Day: A Job Rotation Opportunity at the University Health Network

  5. Community Engagement via a Virtual Patient Focus Group

 

Benchmarking Patient Complaints Data across Ontario Hospitals: University Health Network Invites Collaboration

  • What do patients want from hospital-based healthcare services?
  • Why are patients unhappy with their experiences?
  • What can hospitals do to make things better?
  • What are the specific areas that are ripe for quality improvement initiatives?

These are questions that hospital executives have increasingly struggled with for the last decade. Efforts to determine the answers to these questions have been implemented, and important knowledge is now available to healthcare administrators within their organizations and through benchmarking across the board.

However, a rich and important source of patient feedback has been ignored. Specifically, when patients are unhappy with their experiences they seek assistance and redress from the hospital-based complaints department. While the names of these departments vary across Ontario, and while authority and scope of practice may also vary, it is increasingly common for all hospitals to identify an individual(s) to respond to patient concerns.Individual hospitals are eager to learn from the data collected in their "complaints departments," and many intra-hospital improvements come from this source of information.

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Mixed Gender Wards: What Does the Evidence Indicate?

Currently, hospital rooms on inpatient units at the University Health Network are designated to be either male or female, depending on the gender of the individual in the room. The practice upon admission to the ward has been to place new patients into rooms where the "roommate" is of the same gender.

This practice causes a delay in the admission to the ward and simultaneously results in patients remaining in the emergency department for longer than necessary while a suitably "gendered" room is made available. This results in increased length of stay (LOS) in the ER. Currently, no data are collected organizationally by the admitting departments on the amount of time patients remain in the ER prior to being moved to the unit due to "gender appropriate room placement." The admitting department estimates that the wait can range from one to two hours to as long as 48 hours. This wait translates into patient dissatisfaction, as demonstrated by patient complaints.

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Patient Relations, Office of the Ombudsman Annual Report - April 1, 2008 - March 31, 2009

What does Patient Relations do?
The Patient Relations Department (Office of the Hospital Ombudsman) continues to evolve and become an increasingly proactive practice at University Health Network (UHN). It seems we are no longer just the “complaints department ” but we are continually involved in pro-active patient safety, patient education, staff education, staff support and system change.

While our core activities revolve around resolving patient / family concerns, we are regularly involved with:

  • Collection of complaint information
  • Analyze our data in order to identify trends and patterns
  • Use those trends to advocate for appropriate changes within UHN
  • Education and capacity building in the organization through in-services and educational sessions to front line staff and physicians through the very popular“Patient Relations Road Show”.
  • Ongoing management of the “ You're a star to us ” and the infamous gold star to acknowledge those UHN staff and physicians who have “gone above and beyond the call of duty”
  • Ongoing management of the Virtual Patient Focus Group (VPFG), an on-line virtual group of former users of UHN services who are asked via email to provide advice and suggestions on specific issues / programs / initiatives being contemplated in the hospital.

Patient Relations at UHN continues to be identified as “best practices” and has received acknowledgement provincially, nationally and internationally.

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Ombudsman for a Day: A Job Rotation Opportunity at the University Health Network

A major challenge for every business, regardless of sector is recruiting and retaining a skilled and effective workfore. The challenge is even greater in healthcare since the need for specialized skills is combined with a need for human sensitivity and caring, often described as “the art and science of healthcare.”

The University Health Network (UHN), composed of the Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, is the largest teaching facility in Canada. UHN has been facing recruitment and retention challenges for several years and is always open to new recruitment and retention strategies. In order to determine what was meaningful to staff, UHN, under the auspices of its Human Resources Department, conducted an employee opinion survey (EOS Appreciative Inquiry Exercise, April 20, 2004)

Staff were asked what they found meaningful and important in the working enviroment, and they responded by identifying four specific areas: recognition, communication, workload management and learning environment. One area that was identified as a particularly good example of a successful “learning environment” strategy was the opportunity to participate in a job rotation in a department other than their own.

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Community Engagement via a Virtual Patient Focus Group

The concept of community engagement is neither new nor provocative. Since the mid seventies, considerable work has been done to understand the different typologies and characteristics of various engagement models. In this regard, Sherry Arnstein's 1969 analysis is still relevant even in 2007. Specifically Arnstein described different degrees and levels of involvement where the first level aims are to educate, inform or communicate information to a particular stakeholder group. The second level of involvement or public consultation refers to a degree of involvement where the goal is to promote the exchange of information between the public and the consulting organization. The highest level of engagement, described as public participation, implies a participative type of involvement where partnership, power sharing and decision making go hand-in-hand.

The strategy of using community feedback to advance organizational development or assist an organization in its change agenda is also well established and often used. The pressure felt by healthcare organizations to engage with its stakeholders' as part of their accountability agenda or their patient safety agenda is also not novel. Perhaps what is new is the modus operandi recently used by the University Health Network (UHN) to engage in a dialogue with its patients by the use of a web-based communication in order to create a standing virtual focus group.

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The above is an excerpt from the article.
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