One team’s commitment to patient safety drives process improvement and plays to team member strengths

The Joint Commission has designated medication reconciliation as a top-of-mind National Patient Safety Goal for 2017. Medication reconciliation is critical to providing the safest, highest quality and most personalized care.

In the past two years, a dedicated quality team has been working to standardize and improve our medication history and medication reconciliation* processes. In the pursuit of excellence, the team applied for a prestigious national study, MARQUIS2, sponsored by The Society of Hospital Medicine and The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and were one of 18 to be accepted out of 72 applicants. This experience provided our dedicated team with knowledge and insight to innovate and improve our own processes to the highest of standards and best practices, right here at Mission Health.

At Mission Hospital, Medication History Pharmacy Technicians (MHPTs) obtain patients’ medication histories, which is vital to safe and efficient medication reconciliation; while prescribers “reconcile” the information with patients during the transitions of care. The team analyzed this process and internal data and realized that the accuracy of a medication history significantly improved when performed by a dedicated history taker. Good thing our MHPTs at Mission Hospital are our dedicated history takers!

The team also learned through the study that if there is a mismatch between resources and demand, it is best practice to prioritize high-risk patients for dedicated history takers–and, historically, prioritization is a time-consuming and subjective process. So the team approached this with the mindset and goal of “focusing the right people on the right work at the right time in order to prioritize patients with the most complex medication regimens.” They’ve since come up with an effective solution!

It’s all about innovation and playing to team members’ strengths.

Not given a “how-to guide” on improving the process or best prioritizing high-risk patients, the team recognized the potential and honed in on the problem. They realized there was a way our MHPTs could be at their absolute best, which also meant even better care for our patients and families.

The new process uses a triage algorithm that the team developed to identify and prioritize high-risk patients. This process also ensures our MHPTs objectively focus on patients with the greatest need and/or highest risk and allows them to perform at the top of their licensure. To make this process even better, the team is partnering with information technology to automate the medication history priority list.

Isn’t it amazing to hear how dedicated our teams are to process improvement that sparks innovation and teamwork–and results in even safer and personalized care for our patients? Feel inspired? Us too!

So what are you waiting for, team member? You are empowered to process improvement, too!

This pharmacy team was encouraged and empowered to seek best practices. Determined to improve the patient and team member experiences, they did their research and brought the right people together to–not only focus on important problems–but fix them.

You can do this, too! If there is a hassle, barrier or opportunity for improvement in your work area, you are encouraged to raise the issue among your team. Start the conversation and talk about it–with one another and with your leader. At Mission Health, all team members are empowered and expected to not just recognize issues and opportunities, but to also be involved in the solution. This type of confidence and autonomy drives change that has a lasting impact on Mission Health.

For more stories like this, visit the reNEW archives. Learn more about Mission: reNEW at Check out resources and tools for process improvement.

*The Joint Commission has designated medication reconciliation as a National Patient Safety Goal. Medication reconciliation is defined by The Joint Commission as the formal process of comparing a patient’s medication orders to all of the medications that the patient has been taking. This reconciliation is done to avoid medication errors such as omissions, duplications, dosing errors or drug interactions. It should be done at every transition of care in which new medications are ordered or existing orders are rewritten. Transitions in care include changes in setting, service, practitioner or level of care.

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