Clinical Communities Improve Patient Safety, Care and Value in Hospitals

Joint Commission Resources, Inc. today released the September 2015 issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety featuring the article, “Clinical Communities at Johns Hopkins Medicine: An Emerging Approach to Quality Improvement,” by Lois J. Gould, MS, PMP, Peter J. Pronovost, MD, PhD, and colleagues. The article discusses the role of clinical communities as an emerging strategy to connect frontline providers to improve patient safety, quality of care and value across a health system.  
In 2011, the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, Baltimore, Maryland, established clinical communities from six inpatient hospitals within the Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS). Fourteen communities were created, focusing on either a clinical area, patient population, group, process, safety-related issue or other healthcare issue. Each community included representation from all of the participating hospitals.

Before a hospital joins a clinical community, its “executive leadership needs to understand that patient safety and quality improvement (QI) progress at the speed of trust and begin with clinicians and staff closest to patients,” noted the authors. Clinicians and staff know where problems lie, as well as which interventions are likely to improve care, reduce variation in practice and deliver value to the organization. At JHHS, the clinical communities engaged clinicians from across the health system to participate in QI and shared learning with peers through team-building activities and facilitated discussions. After a community was established, patients and families were invited to provide their own personal perspectives and experiences.

The authors identified three key elements for a clinical community’s success:
- Engage physician champions and seek multidisciplinary membership to ensure that all services with a vested interest are represented.
- Assign an administrator with project management skills and dedicated time to organize meetings and support the work.
- Ensure that executive leadership provides sufficient resources for the infrastructure to support the communities.

Source: Joint Commission Resources, Inc.