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1.  Item generation in the development of an inpatient experience questionnaire: a qualitative study 
Background
Patient experience is a key feature of quality improvement in modern health-care delivery. Measuring patient experience is one of several tools used to assess and monitor the quality of health services. This study aims to develop a tool for assessing patient experience with inpatient care in public hospitals in Hong Kong.
Methods
Based on the General Inpatient Questionnaire (GIQ) framework of the Care Quality Commission as a discussion guide, a qualitative study involving focus group discussions and in-depth individual interviews with patients was employed to develop a tool for measuring inpatient experience in Hong Kong.
Results
All participants agreed that a patient satisfaction survey is an important platform for collecting patients’ views on improving the quality of health-care services. Findings of the focus group discussions and in-depth individual interviews identified nine key themes as important hospital quality indicators: prompt access, information provision, care and involvement in decision making, physical and emotional needs, coordination of care, respect and privacy, environment and facilities, handling of patient feedback, and overall care from health-care professionals and quality of care. Privacy, complaint mechanisms, patient involvement, and information provision were further highlighted as particularly important areas for item revision by the in-depth individual interviews. Thus, the initial version of the Hong Kong Inpatient Experience Questionnaire (HKIEQ), comprising 58 core items under nine themes, was developed.
Conclusions
A set of dimensions and core items of the HKIEQ was developed and the instrument will undergo validity and reliability tests through a validation survey. A valid and reliable tool is important in accurately assessing patient experience with care delivery in hospitals to improve the quality of health-care services.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-265
PMCID: PMC3733719  PMID: 23835186
Patient experience; Patient satisfaction survey; Inpatient experience questionnaire
2.  Framework and components for effective discharge planning system: a delphi methodology 
Background
To reduce avoidable hospital readmissions, effective discharge planning and appropriate post discharge support care are key requirements. This study is a 3-staged process to develop, pretest and pilot a framework for an effective discharge planning system in Hong Kong. This paper reports on the methodology of Delphi approach and findings of the second stage on pre-testing the framework developed so as to validate and attest to its applicability and practicability in which consensus was sought on the key components of discharge planning.
Methods
Delphi methodology was adopted to engage a group of experienced healthcare professionals to rate and discuss the framework and components of an effective discharge planning. The framework was consisted 36 statements under 5 major themes: initial screening, discharge planning process, coordination of discharge, implementation of discharge, and post discharge follow-up. Each statement was rated independently based on 3 aspects including clarity, validity and applicability on a 5-point Likert-scale. Statement with 75% or above of participants scoring 4–5 on all 3 aspects would be included in the discharge planning framework. For those statements not reaching 75% of consensus in any one of the aspect, it would be revised or discarded following the group discussion, and be re-rated in another round.
Results
A total of 24 participants participated in the consensus-building process. In round one rating, consensus was achieved in 25 out of 36 statements. Among those 11 statements not reaching consensus, the major concern was related to the “applicability” of the statements. The participants expressed a lack of manpower, skills and time in particular during weekends and long holidays in carrying out assessment and care plans within 24 h after admission. There were also timeliness and availability issue in providing transportation and necessary equipment to the patients. To make the statements more applicable, the wordings of some of the statements were revised to provide greater flexibility. Due to the lack of a statement in clarifying the role of the members of the healthcare professional team, one additional statement on the role and responsibility of the multidisciplinary team members was added. The first theme on “initial screening” was further revised to “initial screening and assessment” to better reflect the first stage of discharge planning process. After two rounds of rating process, all the 36 statements and the newly added statement reached consensus
Conclusions
A structured, systematic and coordinated system of hospital discharge system is required to facilitate the discharge process to ensure a smooth patient transition from the hospital to the community and improve patient health outcome in both clinical and social aspect. The findings of this paper provide a reference framework helping policymakers and hospital managers to facilitate the development of a coherent and systematized discharge planning process. Adopting a Delphi approach also demonstrates the values of the method as a pre-test (before the clinical run) of the components and requirements of a discharge planning system taking into account of the local context and system constraints, which would lead to improvements to its applicability and practicability. To confirm the applicability and practicability of this consensus framework for discharge planning system, the third stage of process of development of the discharge planning framework is to apply and pilot the framework in a hospital setting to evaluate its feasibility, applicability and impact in hospital including satisfaction from both the perspectives of staff and patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-396
PMCID: PMC3508885  PMID: 23151173
3.  Can vouchers make a difference to the use of private primary care services by older people? Experience from the healthcare reform programme in Hong Kong 
Background
As part of its ongoing healthcare reform, the Hong Kong Government introduced a voucher scheme, intended for encouraging older patients to use primary healthcare services in the private sector, thereby, reducing burden on the overwhelmed public sector. The voucher program is also considered one of the strategies to further develop the public private partnership in healthcare, a policy direction of high political priority as indicated in the Chief Executive Policy Address in 2008-09. This study assessed whether the voucher scheme, as implemented so far, has reached its intended goals, and how it might be further improved in the context of public-private partnership.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study using structured questionnaires by face-to-face interviews with older people aged 70 or above in Hong Kong, the target group of the demand-side voucher program.
Results
71.2% of 1,026 older people were aware of the new voucher scheme but only 35.0% had ever used it. The majority of the older people used the vouchers for acute curative services in the private sector (82.4%) and spent less on preventive services. Despite the provision of vouchers valued US$30 per year as an incentive to encourage the use of private primary care services, after 12-months of implementation, 66.2% of all respondents agreed with the statement that "the voucher scheme does not change their health seeking behaviours on seeing public or private healthcare professionals". The most common reasons for no change in their behaviours included "I am used to seeing doctors in the public system" and "The amount of the subsidy is too low". Those who usually used a mix of public and private doctors and those with better self-reported health condition compared to last year were more likely to perceive a change in their own health seeking behaviours.
Conclusions
Our study showed that despite a reasonably high awareness of the voucher scheme, its usage was low. The voucher alone was not enough to realize the government's policy of greater use of the private primary care services. Greater publicity and more variety of media promotion would increase awareness but the effectiveness of vouchers in changing older people's behaviour needs to be revisited. Designating vouchers for use of preventive services with evidence-based practice could be considered. In addition to the demand-side subsidies, improving transparency and comparability of private services against the public sector might be necessary.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-255
PMCID: PMC3200178  PMID: 21978140
4.  Barriers to effective discharge planning: a qualitative study investigating the perspectives of frontline healthcare professionals 
Background
Studies have shown that effective discharge planning is one of the key factors related to the quality of inpatient care and unnecessary hospital readmission. The perception and understanding of hospital discharge by health professionals is important in developing effective discharge planning. The aims of this present study were to explore the perceived quality of current hospital discharge from the perspective of health service providers and to identify barriers to effective discharge planning in Hong Kong.
Methods
Focus groups interviews were conducted with different healthcare professionals who were currently responsible for coordinating the discharge planning process in the public hospitals. The discussion covered three main areas: current practice on hospital discharge, barriers to effective hospital discharge, and suggested structures and process for an effective discharge planning system.
Results
Participants highlighted that there was no standardized hospital-wide discharge planning and policy-driven approach in public health sector in Hong Kong. Potential barriers included lack of standardized policy-driven discharge planning program, and lack of communication and coordination among different health service providers and patients in both acute and sub-acute care provisions which were identified as mainly systemic issues. Improving the quality of hospital discharge was suggested, including a multidisciplinary approach with clearly identified roles among healthcare professionals. Enhancement of health professionals' communication skills and knowledge of patient psychosocial needs were also suggested.
Conclusions
A systematic approach to develop the structure and key processes of the discharge planning system is critical in ensuring the quality of care and maximizing organization effectiveness. In this study, important views on barriers experienced in hospital discharge were provided. Suggestions for building a comprehensive, system-wide, and policy-driven discharge planning process with clearly identified staff roles were raised. Communication and coordination across various healthcare parties and provisions were also suggested to be a key focus.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-242
PMCID: PMC3190337  PMID: 21955544
5.  Risk factors of hospitalization and readmission of patients with COPD in Hong Kong population: Analysis of hospital admission records 
Background
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) accounts for around 4% of all public hospital annual admissions in Hong Kong. By year 2020, COPD will be ranked fifth among the conditions with the highest burden to the society. This study identifies admission and unplanned readmission of COPD patients, factors affecting unplanned readmission, and estimates its cost burden on the public healthcare system in Hong Kong.
Methods
This is a retrospective study analyzing COPD admissions to all public hospitals in Hong Kong. All admission episodes to acute medical wards with the principal diagnosis of COPD (ICD-9:490-492, 494-496) from January 2006 to December 2007 were captured. Unplanned readmission was defined as an admission which followed a previous admission within 30 days.
Results
In 2006 and 2007, 65497 (8.0%) of episodes from medical wards were identified as COPD admissions, and among these, 15882 (24.2%) were unplanned readmissions. The mean age of COPD patients was 76.81 ± 9.59 years and 77% were male. Unplanned readmission was significantly associated with male gender, receiving public assistance and living in nursing homes while no association was found with the Charlson comorbidity index. Patients who were readmitted unplanned had a significant longer acute length of stay (β = 0.3894, P < 0.001) after adjustment for other covariates.
Conclusions
Unplanned readmission of COPD patients has a huge impact on the public healthcare system. A systematic approach in programme provision and a good discharge planning process targeting on COPD patients who are at high risk of unplanned readmission are essential.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-186
PMCID: PMC3162881  PMID: 21831287
COPD; Hospitalization; Unplanned Readmission; Hong Kong
6.  Unplanned readmission rates, length of hospital stay, mortality, and medical costs of ten common medical conditions: a retrospective analysis of Hong Kong hospital data 
Background
Studies on readmissions attributed to particular medical conditions, especially heart failure, have generally not addressed the factors associated with readmissions and the implications for health outcomes and costs. This study aimed to investigate the factors associated with 30-day unplanned readmission for 10 common conditions and to determine the cost implications.
Methods
This population-based retrospective cohort study included patients admitted to all public hospitals in Hong Kong in 2007. The sample consisted of 337,694 hospitalizations in Internal Medicine. The disease-specific risk-adjusted odd ratio (OR), length of stay (LOS), mortality and attributable medical costs for the year were examined for unplanned readmissions for 10 medical conditions, namely malignant neoplasms, heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, pneumonia, injury and poisoning, nephritis and nephrosis, diabetes mellitus, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, septicaemia, and aortic aneurysm.
Results
The overall unplanned readmission rate was 16.7%. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis had the highest OR (1.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.39-1.87). Patients with cerebrovascular disease had the longest LOS, with mean acute and rehabilitation stays of 6.9 and 3.0 days, respectively. Malignant neoplasms had the highest mortality rate (30.8%) followed by aortic aneurysm and pneumonia. The attributed medical cost of readmission was highest for heart disease (US$3 199 418, 95% CI US$2 579 443-803 393).
Conclusions
Our findings showed variations in readmission rates and mortality for different medical conditions which may suggest differences in the quality of care provided for various medical conditions. In-hospital care, comprehensive discharge planning, and post-discharge community support for patients need to be reviewed to improve the quality of care and patient health outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-149
PMCID: PMC3146405  PMID: 21679471
7.  Avoidable readmission in Hong Kong - system, clinician, patient or social factor? 
Background
Studies that identify reasons for readmissions are gaining importance in the light of the changing demographics worldwide which has led to greater demand for hospital beds. It is essential to profile the prevalence of avoidable readmissions and understand its drivers so as to develop possible interventions for reducing readmissions that are preventable. The aim of this study is to identify the magnitude of avoidable readmissions, its contributing factors and costs in Hong Kong.
Methods
This was a retrospective analysis of 332,453 inpatient admissions in the Medical specialty in public hospital system in Hong Kong in year 2007. A stratified random sample of patients with unplanned readmission within 30 days after discharge was selected for medical record reviews. Eight physicians reviewed patients' medical records and classified whether a readmission was avoidable according to an assessment checklist. The results were correlated with hospital inpatient data.
Results
It was found that 40.8% of the 603 unplanned readmissions were judged avoidable by the reviewers. Avoidable readmissions were due to: clinician factor (42.3%) including low threshold for admission and premature discharge etc.; patient factor (including medical and health factor) (41.9%) such as relapse or progress of previous complaint, and compliance problems etc., followed by system factor (14.6%) including inadequate discharge planning, inadequate palliative care/terminal care, etc., and social factor (1.2%) such as carer system, lack of support and community services. After adjusting for patients' age, gender, principal diagnosis at previous discharge and readmission hospitals, the risk factors for avoidable readmissions in the total population i.e. all acute care admissions irrespective of whether there was a readmission or not, included patients with a longer length of stay, and with higher number of hospitalizations and attendance in public outpatient clinics and Accident and Emergency departments in the past 12 months. In the analysis of only unplanned readmissions, it was found that the concordance of the principal diagnosis for admission and readmission, and shorter time period between discharge and readmission were associated with avoidable readmissions.
Conclusions
Our study found that almost half of the readmissions could have been prevented. They had been mainly due to clinician and patient factors, in particular, both of which were intimately related to clinical management and patient care. These readmissions could be prevented by a system of ongoing clinical review to examine the clinical practice/decision for discharge, and improving clinical care and enhancing patient knowledge of the early warning signs for relapse. The importance of adequate and appropriate ambulatory care to support the patients in the community was also a key finding to reduce avoidable readmissions. Education on patient self-management should also be enhanced to minimize the patient factors with regard to avoidable readmission. Our findings thus provide important insights into the development of an effective discharge planning system which should place patients and carers as the primacy focus of care by engaging them along with the healthcare professionals in the whole discharge planning process.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-311
PMCID: PMC2993701  PMID: 21080970

Results 1-7 (7)