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UPMC Quality Symposium Highlights Critical ‘First Five Minutes’ of Patient Care


With the help of a simulated emergency room and the customer service secrets of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, health care workers participating in the Quality and Patient Safety Symposium presented by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) on Friday, Sept. 28 will learn ways to improve patient outcomes and perceptions in the critical first five minutes of a patient encounter.

The annual symposium, sponsored by UPMC’s Center for Quality Improvement and Innovation, will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Regional Learning Alliance at Cranberry Woods. The session, centered on “The First Five Minutes” theme, will detail the actions crucial to establishing appropriate patient flow, good clinical outcomes and favorable patient impressions when patients first arrive at a health care facility. The event is designed to provide physicians, nurses, health care executives and other health professionals with an overview of best practices related to quality and patient safety.

The keynote address will be delivered by Eugene Litvak, Ph.D., who will focus on improving access to and quality of care by managing the variability in patient flow to such areas as the emergency department. Dr. Litvak is director of the Program for the Management of Variability in Health Care Delivery at the Boston University Health Policy Institute and a leader in the development and application of variability methodology for quality improvement and cost reduction in health care delivery.

“UPMC is committed to ensuring that quality improvement never ceases and that each patient gets the right care at the right time in the right way,” said Elizabeth Concordia, UPMC’s senior vice president, academic and community hospitals. “This symposium is designed to explore new ways to improve health care processes—in the crucial first five minutes and throughout a patient’s course of treatment.”

The day’s events also will include:

A novel role-playing game designed to simulate a hectic emergency room on a Friday night. Participants will focus on techniques for team-building, problem-solving and data-driven decision-making.
A special version of the Ritz-Carlton’s seminar on techniques for improving service in the hospitality industry, where customers are notoriously sensitive to the experience of the first five minutes. Diana Oreck, vice president of global learning at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., will offer tips and techniques that can be applied to health care.
A review of recent findings on “safety culture” in health care, presented by J. Bryan Sexton, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. .Dr. Sexton argues that the culture of safety that exists in a health care environment can be measured and improved and is predictive of clinical outcomes.


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