COVID-19 Safety News Briefs
May 15, 2020
With the coronavirus pandemic, telehealth has become the default venue for a wide variety of clinical visits. We asked three health care leaders:

What do we know about the efficacy of telehealth and its impact on quality and safety?

Dr. Joseph Kvedar of Partners HealthCare offers another way to ask the question: “How is telehealth different?” He cites use cases that lead to different measures of quality. In the end, if physicians are thoughtful about the indications for using telehealth, quality is likely to be high.

Barbara Rabson of Massachusetts Health Quality Partners says the public health crisis is an opportunity for innovation. As telehealth transitions from emergency fix to ongoing practice, the most important metrics of success should be patient and provider experience. MHQP is already surveying them to learn how it’s going.

Frank Federico of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement wants the evaluation of telehealth to be informed by metrics, including morbidity and mortality, diagnostic errors, patient-reported outcomes, among others. He also notes the importance of studying the impact of telehealth on the experience of patients and their families, as well as clinicians and staff members.

 Two national organizations are working together to connect health care providers with new sources for the personal protective equipment they need. Lists of non-traditional U.S.-based and overseas suppliers of PPE, vetted by the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) and ECRI, are updated daily and freely available for use by all health care facilities and organizations. There are also lists of companies that offer test kits, disinfectants, swabs, and related services. AHRMM of the American Hospital Association is a membership group for health care supply chain professionals and ECRI is a nonprofit organization working to improve the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of health care.

Visit the AHRMM ’s website to access the suppliers’ lists and ECRI ’s website for additional helpful spreadsheets on product and supply equivalents and other COVID-19 resources.

Now that Courtney Audet (right) and others in her department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are wearing protective masks every day, the child life specialist in radiation oncology inspired by physicians in Italy who personalized their personal protective equipment — made large photo buttons for her colleagues to wear. On LinkedIn, Audet writes, “Going through cancer treatment is scary enough, so that smile, along with the amazing amount of compassion the staff has, makes everyone feel comfortable during this unprecedented time.”
Congratulations to  Gordon Schiff, M.D.,  recipient of the  2019 Eisenberg Award  for Individual Achievement, one of the most prestigious patient safety awards in the country. Dr. Schiff, associate director of Brigham and Women’s Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice, has been a trusted adviser to the Betsy Lehman Center and we are pleased to collaborate with him on important patient safety work including the  Primary-Care Research in Diagnosis Errors Learning Network , which he founded. Read this  interview  with Dr. Schiff about the Eisenberg award, sponsored by The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum.

Thank you, readers, for generously sharing stories about ways you are not just coping with COVID-19, but adapting and improving work along the way. We’d love to share even more of them in this newsletter. Please  let us know  about how your organization is managing challenges presented by the pandemic.