A hospital’s yearlong initiative to improve care coordination for underserved patients is benefiting from a dose of project management that brings structure, organization and accountability. Simple, strategic Post-it notes and iterative approaches are part of the prescription. It’s all new medicine for the doctors leading the effort.
It’s a common lament among physicians. Portland, Ore.-based internists Honora Englander, M.D., and Devan Kansagara, M.D., say that their medical school training did not include much in the way of business or management education.
But earlier this year, part of that gap was remedied when they took an Oregon Health and Science University graduate level course on clinical research management that introduced a variety of project management principles and techniques. Both doctors are now using their project management knowledge to help fill a critical gap of another kind — the gap in health care services for medically underserved patients. In November, OHSU launched Care Transitions Innovation, a yearlong project to coordinate services for 200 uninsured or Medicaid patients post discharge from the hospital.
Englander is the medical director of Care Transitions Innovation, which is known as C-TraIn, and an assistant professor of medicine at OHSU. Kansagara is the co-principal investigator for C-TraIn, an assistant professor of medicine at OHSU and a staff physician at a nearby Veterans Affairs hospital. Together, they will study how C-TraIn interventions affect hospital utilization and quality of care for a challenging patient population compared with a control group of similar patients not in the program.
The physicians and Jeff Oltmann, PMP, the OHSU management faculty member who taught the course, spoke with Projects@Work to discuss how project management underpins their efforts to improve care transitions so patients thrive at home and are not readmitted.
Talking the Stakeholders’ Language
Englander says the course and its project management techniques came at just the right time. Although she had developed C-TraIn’s basics and had won some support from key leaders prior, she still had a lot of communicating to do with stakeholders funding the program. “OHSU is supporting the program, and it’s quite a leap for the university to invest so much,” she says. “It was important to show the organization how we anticipate problems and to be clear about where we [hope to] succeed. The stakeholder management techniques I learned were very valuable so that we could manage expectations.”
Read the rest at Projects@Work.