Sharing information - discharge summaries
 

Coordination of care for patients with cancer is supported by timely,
accurate and appropriate information flow

Consumers in our Reference Group have  emphasised the importance of consumers and their GPs  being informed about care received in the hospital. Each of the health services in the NEMICS region has a discharge summary policy that includes guidelines specifying the content and completion timelines.

Discharge summaries to patients

NEMICS directorate staff reviewed whether patients admitted to oncology and haematology wards at NEMICS health services were receiving copies of their discharge summaries and whether this was a feasible strategy for strengthening information sharing between health care providers and oncology patients.  This was found to be routine practice for two health services. A recommendation to consider strengthening this communication was made to the other health services. A summary of this project is in the related documents section

Timely discharge summary completion - exploring a possible quality indicator

The discharge summary supports continuity of care between clinicians, enabling information exchange and handover between the hospital and the patient’s GP. It is a mandatory clinical requirement for health services to complete a discharge summary for patients. Doing so supports patient care, accreditation, medico-legal and funding requirements.

There is currently no formal Department of Health cancer performance indicator relating to monitoring the coordination of care activities within health services. NEMICS was keen to test an indicator that could be used to drive local service improvement and potentially be incorporated within the local and statewide performance monitoring frameworks.  "Evidence of timely dissemination of cancer related discharge summaries" was selected based on the following:

  • Relevant to both acute and primary care
  • Easily measurable
  • Patient centered focus.

The test of this indicator resulted in a recommendation to adopt this indicator within NEMICS with annual measurement and reporting. It was found to be valuable because it:

  • enabled tracking and comparison of timely discharge summary completion per patient across cancer related admissions and across any cancer related clinical unit involved with that patient, over a selected time period
  • enabled comparison of performance across clinical units for the same patient group
  • enabled comparison across health services and across the various KPIs

For details see the summary report in the related documents section below.

For further information contact:
Anna Mascitti
Service Improvement Facilitator - Coordinated Care & Consumer Engagement
Ph 9496 3261

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