Public Release: 

Boston Medical Center awarded grant to re-engineer hospital discharge

Boston University

(Boston)-Researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC) received a $1.2 million grant to benefit the ReEngineering Hospital Discharge program (RED) and Louise, a computerized workstation that electronically prepares discharge plans for patients. The two projects supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/National Institute of Health will coincide with one another.

In a recent issue of the Journal of Patient Safety, Brian Jack, MD, the vice chair of family medicine at BMC, was featured in an article on how the nation's hospitals handle patient discharges. Jack, an associate professor of family medicine at BUSM, promoted RED, a checklist with 11 components that confirms patients are ready to be discharged. The objective is to reduce inappropriate readmissions, increase patient satisfaction, and promote primary care services in the community after a hospital stay. "Our goal is to decrease medical errors and adverse events after a hospital discharge, and ensure that patients are well-prepared when they leave the hospital," says Jack.

In the process of developing RED, a computerized animated character based on patient's needs and preferences was created. The character, known as Louise, determines the patients' understanding of self care, medication use, and the transition from hospital to ambulatory care.

Louise will converse with patients at the point of discharge, on a kiosk wheeled into the patient's room. "Our intent is to develop the technology and content to make it possible for Louise to interact with patients after discharge on a hand-held device, and on a kiosk in their primary care physician's office" says Jack.

The research funded will improve delivery, monitoring and updating of patient-centered health information to ensure patients have the information needed to make better health care decisions. Preliminary research shows that those who received these interventions were more likely to see a primary care doctor within 30 days of discharge; are prepared for discharge and their follow-up appointments; are more likely to understand their medications; and are less likely to visit an emergency department.

The National Quality Forum has endorsed the basics of Jack's research; having a ReEngineered Discharge system in place was listed as 1 of 30 practices that a hospital needs to be considered a safe institution.

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