Health Information Technology Could Improve Hospital Discharge Planning


Using Technology to Improve Discharge Planning

An RIV poster presented at SHM’s annual meeting describes the application of health information technology to improve the quality of hospital discharge summaries.4 Lead author Kristen Lewis, MD, in the clinical division of hospital medicine at The Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, described how SHM’s 2009 “Transitions of Care Consensus Policy Statement” was adopted as the medical center’s standard of care—although at baseline this standard was being fully met at the hospital only 4% of the time.5 Discharge summaries frequently lacked important information, including tests pending at discharge, and were not made available to those clinicians who needed them following discharge.

“We developed, piloted, and implemented an innovative electronic discharge summary template that incorporated prompts and automatically populated core components of a quality discharge summary,” Dr. Lewis says, adding that the process also offered opportunities for customization and free-text entries. Initial experience following a series of multidisciplinary educational initiatives to help physicians and case managers understand these mechanisms found full compliance rising to 75%.

Next steps for the project include improving the availability of discharge data for primary care providers, specialist physicians, and extended care facilities not affiliated with OSU; inclusion of the discharge summary in the “After Visit Summary” given to patients; and assessment of outpatient providers’ satisfaction with the process.

For more information about the electronic discharge template, contact Dr. Lewis at [email protected].

Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in Alameda, Calif.


  1. Bailey FA, Williams BR, Woodby LL, et al. Intervention to improve care at life's end in inpatient settings: The BEACON trial. J Gen Intern Med. 2014;29(6):836-843.
  2. Burling S. Yogurt a solution to hospital infection? Philadelphia Inquirer website. December 10, 2013. Available at: http://articles.philly.com/2013-12-10/news/44946926_1_holy-redeemer-probiotics-yogurt. Accessed June 5, 2014.
  3. Landelle C, Verachten M, Legrand P, Girou E, Barbut F, Buisson CB. Contamination of healthcare workers’ hands with Clostridium difficile spores after caring for patients with C. difficile infection. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2014;35(1):10-15.
  4. Lewis K, Walker C. Development and application of information technology solutions to improve the quality and availability of discharge summaries. Journal of Hospital Medicine RIV abstracts website. Available at: http://www.shmabstracts.com/abstract.asp?MeetingID=793&id=104276&meeting=JHM201305. Published May 2013. Accessed June 14, 2014.
  5. Snow V, Beck D, Budnitz T, et al. Transitions of Care Consensus Policy Statement. American College of Physicians; Society of General Internal Medicine; Society of Hospital Medicine; American Geriatrics Society; American College of Emergency Physicians; Society of Academic Emergency Medicine. J Gen Intern Med. 2009;24(8):971-976.
  6. American Hospital Association: Uncompensated hospital care cost fact sheet. January 2014. Available at: http://www.aha.org/content/14/14uncompensatedcare.pdf. Accessed June 5, 2014.

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