Munchhof A, et al. J Gen Intern Med 2020.
BACKGROUND: Ineffective transitions of care continue to be a source of risk for patients. Although there has been widespread implementation of electronic medical record (EMR) systems, little is currently known about hospitalists' and primary care providers' (PCPs) direct communication preferences at discharge using messaging capabilities in a shared EMR system.
OBJECTIVE: We examined how hospitalists and PCPs with a shared EMR prefer to directly communicate at the time of hospital discharge by identifying preferred modes, information prioritization, challenges, facilitators, and proposed solutions.
DESIGN: A sequential, explanatory mixed methods study with surveys and semi-structured interviews.
PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-eight academic hospitalists and 63 PCPs working in outpatient clinics in a single safety net hospital system with a shared EMR.
MAIN APPROACH: Descriptive statistics were used to analyze survey responses. Interviews were analyzed using immersion/crystallization and a mixture of inductive and deductive thematic analysis.
KEY RESULTS: PCPs preferred direct communication at discharge through a message within the EMR while hospitalists preferred a message within the EMR and email. Qualitative results identified key themes related to patient care and direct communication: value of direct communication, safety, social determinants of health, and clinical judgment. Both groups prioritized direct communication for high-risk medications, pending and follow-up studies, and high-risk patients that hospitalists were concerned about. Overall, both hospitalists and PCPs reported that ensuring patient safety, flagging patients with social challenges, and expressing concerns about patients based on clinical judgment were key communication priorities.
CONCLUSIONS: Hospitalists and primary care providers report considerable overlap in preferences for direct communication at the time of hospital discharge through a shared EMR. Specifically, both groups reported similar concerns regarding patient safety and continuity during transitions. Direct messaging within the EMR could enable "closed loop" communication that helps ensure safe transitions of care for high-risk patients.