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1.  Predicting length of stay from an electronic patient record system: a primary total knee replacement example 
Background
To investigate whether factors can be identified that significantly affect hospital length of stay from those available in an electronic patient record system, using primary total knee replacements as an example. To investigate whether a model can be produced to predict the length of stay based on these factors to help resource planning and patient expectations on their length of stay.
Methods
Data were extracted from the electronic patient record system for discharges from primary total knee operations from January 2007 to December 2011 (n = 2,130) at one UK hospital and analysed for their effect on length of stay using Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests for discrete data and Spearman’s correlation coefficient for continuous data. Models for predicting length of stay for primary total knee replacements were tested using the Poisson regression and the negative binomial modelling techniques.
Results
Factors found to have a significant effect on length of stay were age, gender, consultant, discharge destination, deprivation and ethnicity. Applying a negative binomial model to these variables was successful. The model predicted the length of stay of those patients who stayed 4–6 days (~50% of admissions) with 75% accuracy within 2 days (model data). Overall, the model predicted the total days stayed over 5 years to be only 88 days more than actual, a 6.9% uplift (test data).
Conclusions
Valuable information can be found about length of stay from the analysis of variables easily extracted from an electronic patient record system. Models can be successfully created to help improve resource planning and from which a simple decision support system can be produced to help patient expectation on their length of stay.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-14-26
PMCID: PMC3992140  PMID: 24708853
Length of stay; Regression analysis; Models, statistical; negative binomial; Total knee replacement; Computerized Medical Records; Hospital planning
2.  Assessing the validity of prospective hazard analysis methods: a comparison of two techniques 
Background
Prospective Hazard Analysis techniques such as Healthcare Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (HFMEA) and Structured What If Technique (SWIFT) have the potential to increase safety by identifying risks before an adverse event occurs. Published accounts of their application in healthcare have identified benefits, but the reliability of some methods has been found to be low. The aim of this study was to examine the validity of SWIFT and HFMEA by comparing their outputs in the process of risk assessment, and comparing the results with risks identified by retrospective methods.
Methods
The setting was a community-based anticoagulation clinic, in which risk assessment activities had been previously performed and were available. A SWIFT and an HFMEA workshop were conducted consecutively on the same day by experienced experts. Participants were a mixture of pharmacists, administrative staff and software developers. Both methods produced lists of risks scored according to the method’s procedure. Participants’ views about the value of the workshops were elicited with a questionnaire.
Results
SWIFT identified 61 risks and HFMEA identified 72 risks. For both methods less than half the hazards were identified by the other method. There was also little overlap between the results of the workshops and risks identified by prior root cause analysis, staff interviews or clinical governance board discussions. Participants’ feedback indicated that the workshops were viewed as useful.
Conclusions
Although there was limited overlap, both methods raised important hazards. Scoping the problem area had a considerable influence on the outputs. The opportunity for teams to discuss their work from a risk perspective is valuable, but these methods cannot be relied upon in isolation to provide a comprehensive description. Multiple methods for identifying hazards should be used and data from different sources should be integrated to give a comprehensive view of risk in a system.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-41
PMCID: PMC3906758  PMID: 24467813
Risk assessment; Reliability and validity; HFMEA; SWIFT; Prospective hazard analysis
3.  Construct-level predictive validity of educational attainment and intellectual aptitude tests in medical student selection: meta-regression of six UK longitudinal studies 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:243.
Background
Measures used for medical student selection should predict future performance during training. A problem for any selection study is that predictor-outcome correlations are known only in those who have been selected, whereas selectors need to know how measures would predict in the entire pool of applicants. That problem of interpretation can be solved by calculating construct-level predictive validity, an estimate of true predictor-outcome correlation across the range of applicant abilities.
Methods
Construct-level predictive validities were calculated in six cohort studies of medical student selection and training (student entry, 1972 to 2009) for a range of predictors, including A-levels, General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs)/O-levels, and aptitude tests (AH5 and UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)). Outcomes included undergraduate basic medical science and finals assessments, as well as postgraduate measures of Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP(UK)) performance and entry in the Specialist Register. Construct-level predictive validity was calculated with the method of Hunter, Schmidt and Le (2006), adapted to correct for right-censorship of examination results due to grade inflation.
Results
Meta-regression analyzed 57 separate predictor-outcome correlations (POCs) and construct-level predictive validities (CLPVs). Mean CLPVs are substantially higher (.450) than mean POCs (.171). Mean CLPVs for first-year examinations, were high for A-levels (.809; CI: .501 to .935), and lower for GCSEs/O-levels (.332; CI: .024 to .583) and UKCAT (mean = .245; CI: .207 to .276). A-levels had higher CLPVs for all undergraduate and postgraduate assessments than did GCSEs/O-levels and intellectual aptitude tests. CLPVs of educational attainment measures decline somewhat during training, but continue to predict postgraduate performance. Intellectual aptitude tests have lower CLPVs than A-levels or GCSEs/O-levels.
Conclusions
Educational attainment has strong CLPVs for undergraduate and postgraduate performance, accounting for perhaps 65% of true variance in first year performance. Such CLPVs justify the use of educational attainment measure in selection, but also raise a key theoretical question concerning the remaining 35% of variance (and measurement error, range restriction and right-censorship have been taken into account). Just as in astrophysics, ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ are posited to balance various theoretical equations, so medical student selection must also have its ‘dark variance’, whose nature is not yet properly characterized, but explains a third of the variation in performance during training. Some variance probably relates to factors which are unpredictable at selection, such as illness or other life events, but some is probably also associated with factors such as personality, motivation or study skills.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-243
PMCID: PMC3827328  PMID: 24229353
Medical student selection; Undergraduate performance; Postgraduate performance; Educational attainment; Aptitude tests; Criterion-related construct validity; Range restriction; Right censorship; Grade inflation; Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm
4.  Does the inclusion of 'professional development' teaching improve medical students' communication skills? 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:41.
Background
This study investigated whether the introduction of professional development teaching in the first two years of a medical course improved students' observed communication skills with simulated patients. Students' observed communication skills were related to patient-centred attitudes, confidence in communicating with patients and performance in later clinical examinations.
Methods
Eighty-two medical students from two consecutive cohorts at a UK medical school completed two videoed consultations with a simulated patient: one at the beginning of year 1 and one at the end of year 2. Group 1 (n = 35) received a traditional pre-clinical curriculum. Group 2 (n = 47) received a curriculum that included communication skills training integrated into a 'professional development' vertical module. Videoed consultations were rated using the Evans Interview Rating Scale by communication skills tutors. A subset of 27% were double-coded. Inter-rater reliability is reported.
Results
Students who had received the professional development teaching achieved higher ratings for use of silence, not interrupting the patient, and keeping the discussion relevant compared to students receiving the traditional curriculum. Patient-centred attitudes were not related to observed communication. Students who were less nervous and felt they knew how to listen were rated as better communicators. Students receiving the traditional curriculum and who had been rated as better communicators when they entered medical school performed less well in the final year clinical examination.
Conclusions
Students receiving the professional development training showed significant improvements in certain communication skills, but students in both cohorts improved over time. The lack of a relationship between observed communication skills and patient-centred attitudes may be a reflection of students' inexperience in working with patients, resulting in 'patient-centredness' being an abstract concept. Students in the early years of their medical course may benefit from further opportunities to practise basic communication skills on a one-to-one basis with patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-41
PMCID: PMC3141797  PMID: 21708000
communication skills; patient-centredness; medical student; curriculum change; video observation
5.  Does the process map influence the outcome of quality improvement work? A comparison of a sequential flow diagram and a hierarchical task analysis diagram 
Background
Many quality and safety improvement methods in healthcare rely on a complete and accurate map of the process. Process mapping in healthcare is often achieved using a sequential flow diagram, but there is little guidance available in the literature about the most effective type of process map to use. Moreover there is evidence that the organisation of information in an external representation affects reasoning and decision making. This exploratory study examined whether the type of process map - sequential or hierarchical - affects healthcare practitioners' judgments.
Methods
A sequential and a hierarchical process map of a community-based anti coagulation clinic were produced based on data obtained from interviews, talk-throughs, attendance at a training session and examination of protocols and policies. Clinic practitioners were asked to specify the parts of the process that they judged to contain quality and safety concerns. The process maps were then shown to them in counter-balanced order and they were asked to circle on the diagrams the parts of the process where they had the greatest quality and safety concerns. A structured interview was then conducted, in which they were asked about various aspects of the diagrams.
Results
Quality and safety concerns cited by practitioners differed depending on whether they were or were not looking at a process map, and whether they were looking at a sequential diagram or a hierarchical diagram. More concerns were identified using the hierarchical diagram compared with the sequential diagram and more concerns were identified in relation to clinical work than administrative work. Participants' preference for the sequential or hierarchical diagram depended on the context in which they would be using it. The difficulties of determining the boundaries for the analysis and the granularity required were highlighted.
Conclusions
The results indicated that the layout of a process map does influence perceptions of quality and safety problems in a process. In quality improvement work it is important to carefully consider the type of process map to be used and to consider using more than one map to ensure that different aspects of the process are captured.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-7
PMCID: PMC2822834  PMID: 20056005
6.  Construction of an odds model of coronary heart disease using published information: the Cardiovascular Health Improvement Model (CHIME) 
Background
There is a need for a new cardiovascular disease model that includes a wider range of relevant risk factors, in particular lifestyle factors, to aid targeting of interventions and improve population models of the impact of cardiovascular disease and preventive strategies. The model needs to be applicable to a wider population including different ethnic groups, different countries and to those with and without cardiovascular disease. This paper describes the construction of the Cardiovascular Health Improvement Model that aims to meet these requirements.
Method
An odds model is used. Information was taken from 2003 mortality statistics for England and Wales, the Health Survey for England 2003 and published data on relative risk in those with and without CVD and mean blood pressure values in hypertensives. The odds ratios used were taken from the INTERHEART study.
Results
A worked example is given calculating the 10-year coronary heart disease risk for a 57 year-old non-diabetic male with no personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, who smokes 30 cigarettes a day and has a systolic blood pressure of 137 mmHg, a total cholesterol (TC) of 6.2 mmol/l, a high density lipoprotein (HDL) of 1.3 mol/l, and a body mass index of 21. He neither drinks regularly nor exercises. He can give no reliable information about his mental health or fruit and vegetable intake. His 10-year risk of CHD death is 2.47%.
Conclusion
This paper demonstrates a method for developing a CHD risk model. Further improvements could be made to the model with additional information. The method is applicable to other causes of death.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-49
PMCID: PMC2601038  PMID: 18976488
7.  Does Choose & Book fail to deliver the expected choice to patients? A survey of patients' experience of outpatient appointment booking 
Background
Choose and Book is a central part of the UK Government patient choice agenda that seeks to provide patients with a choice over the time, date and place of their first outpatient appointment. This is done through the use of a computerised booking system. After a 2004 pilot study, Choose and Book was formally launched in January 2006. This is the first study of patient experience of Choose and Book since then.
Methods
A questionnaire survey of reported experience of choice over the time, data and place of appointment, carried out in a National Health Service hospital in London. 104 patients at their first outpatient appointment completed the questionnaire, consisting of a consecutive series of patients referred through Choose and Book and a sample referred through the conventional booking system.
Results
Among the Choose and Book patients, 66% (31/47; 95% CI 52 to 78%) reported not being given a choice of appointment date, 66% (31/47; 95% CI 52 to 78%) reported not being given a choice of appointment time, 86% (37/43; 95% CI 74 to 94%) reported being given a choice of fewer than four hospitals in total and 32% (15/47; 95% CI 20 to 46%) reported not being given any choice of hospital.
Conclusion
In this study, patients did not experience the degree of choice that Choose and Book was designed to deliver.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-36
PMCID: PMC2529277  PMID: 18673533

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