New rounding model brings experts to the bedside

Jan. 28, 2020

A new initiative to improve communication among those involved in patient care, including patients themselves, is getting high marks.

Dr. Joe Maslak prepares a team of hospital staff for mid-morning rounds with a patient at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central. Photo by Tom Hutton

UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central care teams are piloting a system that brings hospitalist physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, social workers, and case managers together to meet with patients and their loved ones. Together, the team huddles briefly to review the case before asking permission to enter the patient’s room and to discuss how they’re feeling, changes in medications, care plans or any other question the patient or family members raise.

The visits take place mid-morning, increasing the odds of engaging with a fully awake patient or family members returning to the hospital after a night at home or a stay at a nearby hotel.

“I have so many questions but I don’t know how to ask them,” a woman in her 50s confessed to the team on a recent weekday morning as she visited her mother who was recovering from a stroke.

But soon, the questions came. Was physical therapy really helping? What drugs were being administered? What did they do? And what was the status of arrangements for an assisted living facility?

Hospitalist Dr. Joe Maslak gently encouraged the questions before answering some himself and directing others to Shelley Glaess, pharmacist; Anne Hegler, social work; Assouma Murekeyisoni, charge nurse; and Lynda Torres, case manager.

Within moments of leaving the room, the group reviewed what was discussed, their assignments, and how they could improve their technique on the next visit.

For Maslak, who previously checked on patients early in the morning — often before they were awake — the change is dramatic. He likes the team approach, the ability to focus on patients in a specific area such as neurology or renal medicine, and improved patient and family interaction.

The team recently visited a patient known for his detailed questions that often sent nursing staff seeking answers in every corner of the sprawling 400-plus bed hospital.

“We met with him as a team and answered every single one of his questions,” Maslak said. “The experts were all there. It took a while, but I believe it was an effective use of our time to be sure we were delivering the best possible care and that we involved the patient in his own future.”

Other hospitalist teams piloting the program include Dr. Steven Sloan, Dr. Caley Copeland, Dr. Tiffany Cartner, Dr. Adam Kassner and Dr. Scott Segal.

About the author

Tom Hutton is a veteran communications professional who enjoys making complex subjects relatable to people from all walks of life. Prior to joining UCHealth in 2019, he taught and led public communications at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Previously, he led communications at the University of Kansas and was a reporter and manager for newspapers in Kansas, Iowa and California. In these roles, he earned recognition from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the University of Colorado and various press associations.

Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from KU and a master’s degree in public administration from CU. He enjoys college sports, vintage cars, cooking Kansas City-style barbeques, skiing and hiking.

He and his wife Julie have two daughters and a son.