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Fisher and Muehlschlegel will ID best practices for good hospital-to-home transitions

Proposal to improve care transitions awarded inaugural Prize for Academic Collaboration Excellence

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

January 18, 2018
  Susanne Muehlschlegel, MD, MPH
 

Susanne Muehlschlegel, MD, MPH

   
  Kimberly Fisher, MD
 

Kimberly Fisher, MD

The transition from hospitalization to home is a high-risk time, with nearly one in five patients experiencing an adverse event within the first month following hospital discharge. As recipients of the inaugural Prize for Academic Collaboration Excellence for UMMS faculty who are practicing physicians in the UMass Memorial Medical Group, Kimberly Fisher, MD, and Susanne Muehlschlegel, MD, MPH, will identify and develop effective strategies for improving care transitions from hospital to home.

“Our goal is to discover factors associated with high quality care transitions through the study of high-performing hospitals,” said Dr. Fisher, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine. “We hope to develop an in-depth understanding of what strategies work in what context, and then test our hypotheses through a national survey of hospitals.”

The PACE award encourages research collaboration between departments and demonstrates the UMass Memorial Medical Group’s commitment to academic excellence by supporting research conducted by interdepartmental teams of medical group physicians.

With the two-year, $200,000 grant, Fisher and Muehlschlegel will determine which factors and strategies are associated with care transition performance by surveying a large, representative sample of high-performing U.S. hospitals. Despite a proliferation of interventions to improve care transitions, the quality of care transitions across hospitals in the United States remains low and highly variable among hospitals.

“This proposal is innovative in shifting the approach to improving care transitions from trials of individual interventions to identifying a more comprehensive range of factors associated with high performance,” said Dr. Muehlschlegel, associate professor of neurology. “By identifying strategies already in useby high-performing hospitals, we will discover more practical and sustainable approaches than externally developed interventions, increasing the likelihood more hospitals will implement these interventions.”

Muehlschlegel and Fisher previously received Faculty Scholar Awards sponsored by the Office of Faculty Affairs to stimulate and sustain junior faculty research, especially among women faculty and physicians. “It is wonderful to see the downstream impact of the Faculty Scholar Award and the peer mentoring group it spawned that has now resulted in these two mid-career women physician faculty being awarded the PACE prize from an immensely competitive pool of outstanding applications,” said Luanne Thorndyke, MD, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of medicine. 

“It is truly inspiring to see what’s possible when our physicians partner with one another to develop life-changing ideas,” said Stephen Tosi, MD, associate professor of urology and president of the UMass Memorial Medical Group. In announcing the winning project, Dr. Tosi noted that the call for PACE Award applications yielded dozens of proposals, and that the UMass Memorial Medical Group is working further with five runners-up to help them identify potential sources of support for their projects.

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