Christopher O’Donnell’s FAME Grant research

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Christopher O’Donnell, MD (Emory Division of Hospital Medicine) was recently awarded a Fostering the Academic Mission in the Emory Department of Medicine (FAME) Grant for his application, “Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Hospitalists’, Primary Care Providers’, and Subacute Nursing Facilities’ Attitudes Regarding Barriers to Effective Discharge Summaries & Impact of Structured Discharge Summary on Improving Handoffs at Hospital Discharge.”

FAME Grants are an internal funding mechanism offered by the Emory University Department of Medicine designed to provide support for clinical faculty to dedicate up to 20 percent of their professional time to scholarly activity, including research, education, quality-improvement projects and mentoring.

More about Dr. O’Donnell’s FAME Grant research

As more patients are being admitted to the hospitalist service—rather than being treated by their primary care physicians—transitions of care are becoming more of a focus in the field of hospital medicine. Transitioning out of the hospital back to the primary care office and/or a sub-acute rehabilitation facility poses several risks to patients. Patients may experience missed follow-up appointments, lost imaging and laboratory results, and ambiguity as to who is coordinating their multidisciplinary follow-up visits.

Dr. O’Donnell’s research aims to examine the transitions from inpatient to outpatient treatment within the Emory Healthcare system and to incorporate the needs and wants of primary care providers to ensure that pertinent patient information is conveyed in the most efficient way possible.

For many Emory Healthcare patients, the complexity of their conditions mean that they have multiple needs to be addressed in outpatient settings after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. So far, it is unknown how well these needs are being met and how they affect patient safety and readmission rates. Currently, it is also unknown how promptly discharge summaries are sent to both primary care physicians and sub-acute rehabilitation facilities and whether the information that is sent is useful. Dr. O’Donnell’s project aims to identify barriers, determine best practices, and create a standardized protocol and more efficient discharge template.

Dr. O’Donnell hopes that, by creating succinct discharge summaries and exploring the transitions from the inpatient to outpatient arenas, Emory clinicians will be better able to identify areas to improve transitions and communication to outpatient teams. Dr. O’Donnell asserts that a more efficient process will lead to an improvement in patient safety and quality of care.

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