Improving Outpatient Provider Communication for High-Risk Discharges From the Hospitalist Service.

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1542/hpeds.2020-005421


BACKGROUND: Patients are at risk for adverse events during inpatient-to-outpatient transitions of care. Previous improvement work has been targeted at this care transition, but gaps in discharge communication still exist. We aimed to increase documentation of 2-way communication between hospitalists and primary care providers (PCPs) for high-risk discharges from pediatric hospital medicine (PHM) services from 7% to 60% within 30 months.

METHODS: A3 improvement methodology was used. A list of high-risk discharge communication criteria was developed through engagement of PCPs and hospitalists. A driver diagram guided interventions. The outcome measure was documentation of successful 2-way communication with the PCP. Any documented 2-way discharge communication attempt was the process measure. Via a survey, hospitalist satisfaction with the discharge communication expectation served as the balancing measure. All patients discharged from PHM services meeting ≥1 high-risk criterion were included. Statistical process control charts were used to assess changes over time.

RESULTS: There were 3241 high-risk discharges (442 baseline: November 2017 to January 2018; 2799 intervention and sustain: February 2018 to June 2020). The outcome measure displayed iterative special cause variation from a mean baseline of 7% to peak of 39% but regressed and was sustained at 27%. The process measure displayed iterative special cause variation from a 13% baseline mean to a 64% peak, with regression to 41%. The balancing measure worsened from baseline of 5% dissatisfaction to 13%. Interventions temporally related to special cause improvements were education, division-level performance feedback, standardization of documentation, and offloading the task of communication coordination from hospitalists to support staff.

CONCLUSIONS: Improvement methodology resulted in modestly sustained improvements in PCP communication for high-risk discharges from the PHM services.

Journal Title

Hosp Pediatr





First Page


Last Page


MeSH Keywords

Child; Communication; Hospitalists; Humans; Interprofessional Relations; Outpatients; Patient Discharge; Physicians, Primary Care


Communication; Hospitalists; Interprofessional Relations; Outpatients; Patient Discharge; Physicians, Primary Care

Library Record