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Success story: Your problem resolution process for physicians

By Christine Clarke, MD, Quality Operations Committee Chair; Jennifer Williams, MD, Multidisciplinary Peer Review Committee Chair; Pam Cortez, Director of Patient Safety and Clinical Support

A team has been working for the past year to develop a successful problem resolution process for physicians. The goal has been a process through which physicians can report system problems and then receive communication that their concern has been heard, is being addressed and how. The system also issues updates about the status of the problem’s resolution. The development of a productive problem resolution process is one example of how we are more effectively engaging physicians at Salem Health.

From Oct. 31, 2016 through Aug. 28, 2017, physicians submitted 98 problems through the various reporting channels, such as the Patient Safety Alert (PSA) system (45 submitted), Executive Leadership Council discussions (28 submitted) and the Quality Operations Committee problem link on the intranet website (5 submitted).

All problems submitted were assigned a communication manager, and in every case, the physician who reported the problem was contacted to inform them that their concern had been received and was being forwarded to the appropriate operations manager or department for further inquiry.

Some simpler problems were resolved quickly, such as Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment forms being needed in the emergency department and sticky operating room floors. Others required more work and were submitted for in-depth problem solving, such as the availability of interpreters and specific paging issues. Some issues are awaiting resources from future strategy planning.

Whenever possible, physicians were put in direct contact with the operational leader who could best work with them to resolve their problem. Clearly, the best way to solve these problems is to engage our front-line physicians, not only in reporting but also in the harder work of problem solving by partnering with operational leadership. Our physicians are among our most valuable resources from identifying and solving important challenges to providing excellent patient care.

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