Cornell University

Programs for Economic Transitions

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Mobilizing Front-Line Staff to Improve Patient Care and Safety: Research Project

Hospitals are coming under increasing pressure to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient care. Regulatory agencies, insurers, and the public are demanding more accountability for better quality, lower costs, and more transparency in reporting.

In a fundamental and significant way our healthcare system is in crisis: we pay 53 percent more for our healthcare than any other country in the world, while occupying the bottom quartile for quality of care among industrialized nations.

Hospitals are responding with a wide variety of projects and programs, however they have experienced mixed results.  Even where those efforts have been positive, improvements have proven difficult to sustain and spread.

Building effective front-line staff teams trained to solve departmental and systemic problems is important since front-line staff members are closest to problems, know the specific details of how their hospitals operate, and need to implement the potential solutions if these changes are to be sustained.

This national research project was started in 2007 to identify best practices to involve front-line staff in departmental and inter-departmental activities to improve patient care.

This project is being conducted in partnership with Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN from the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Project staff includes adjunct faculty member Pete Carlson and research associates Steven King and Elizabeth McClean.