It used to be hospital patientswere treated by health-careprofessionals in wards dedicated tomedical specialties.
That changed in many wards in the
1990s as the demand for hospital bedsincreased across the province.
“The philosophy became, ‘Getpatients out of the emergencyward as soon as possible and putthem wherever there is an emptybed,’ ” recalls Dr. Finlay McAlister,a researcher funded by AlbertaInnovates – Health Solutions(AIHS) and a specialist in internalmedicine—the prevention, diagnosisand treatment of adult diseases—atthe University of Alberta Hospital.
Many patients were still treatedin dedicated units for specialtiessuch as cardiac, maternity andburns, but others, especially thosein internal medicine, were oftenspread throughout a hospital. Doctorswent from one ward to another tofind them and then find the nurses,physiotherapists and occupational
At the U of A Hospital, a new team approach improves patient care
therapists caring for them. It wasinefficient, confusing and frustrating.
Out of that grew the GeneralInternal Medicine CareTransformation Initiative, an effortby general internal medicine doctors,nurses, patients and other teammembers at the University of AlbertaHospital to improve patient care.
The group recommended 28
Other changes included improving
communication with patients and
pharmacists about medication and
adopting clinical practices and
The changes were made between
fall 2010 and spring 2011 and then the
project was compared to practices
at six other hospitals in Calgary
and Edmonton. Researchers found
the Care Transformation Initiative
reduced stays for internal medicine
patients by an average of 1.4 days (to
nearly 20 per cent below national and
provincial averages) with no negative
effects. As well, patients and health-
care workers were more satisfied.
McAlister, who worked closelywith colleagues Drs. Ann Colbourne,Narmin Kassam and CherylGoldstein, describes it as “kind of theHoly Grail,” satisfying patients andfamilies, as well as administratorsand health-care professionals.
McAlister presented the team’sresults to the Canadian Societyof Internal Medicine in 2013 andthe findings were published thefollowing year. The team’s work hasdrawn interest from other hospitalsin the province and across thecountry. “We’d like others to do it,”McAlister says. “It’s one of the wayswe can improve results forour patients and the health-caresystem.”
— Debby Waldman