In hospital-based medicine units, patients have a wide range of complex medical conditions, requiring timely and accurate communication between multiple interprofessional providers at the time of discharge. Limited work has investigated the challenges in interprofessional collaboration and communication during the patient discharge process. In this study, authors qualitatively assessed the experiences of internal medicine providers and patients about roles, challenges, and potential solutions in the discharge process, with a phenomenological focus on the process of collaboration. Authors conducted interviews with 87 providers and patients—41 providers in eight focus-groups, 39 providers in individual interviews, and seven individual patient interviews. Provider roles included physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, care coordinators, and social workers. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, followed by iterative review of transcripts using qualitative coding and content analysis. Participants identified several barriers related to interprofessional collaboration during the discharge process, including systems insufficiencies (e.g., medication reconciliation process, staffing challenges); lack of understanding others’ roles (e.g., unclear which provider should be completing the discharge summary); information-communication breakdowns (e.g., inaccurate information communicated to the primary medical team); patient issues (e.g., patient preferences misaligned with recommendations); and poor collaboration processes (e.g., lack of structured interprofessional rounds). These results provide context for targeting improvement in interprofessional collaboration in medicine units during patient discharges. Implementing changes in care delivery processes may increase potential for accurate and timely coordination, thereby improving the quality of care transitions.
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