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1.  Item generation in the development of an inpatient experience questionnaire: a qualitative study 
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3733719  PMID: 23835186
Patient experience; Patient satisfaction survey; Inpatient experience questionnaire
2.  Framework and components for effective discharge planning system: a delphi methodology 
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.
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.
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
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.
PMCID: PMC3508885  PMID: 23151173
3.  Public perception on the role of community pharmacists in self-medication and self-care in Hong Kong 
The choices for self-medication in Hong Kong are much diversified, including western and Chinese medicines and food supplements. This study was to examine Hong Kong public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding self-medication, self-care and the role of pharmacists in self-care.
A cross-sectional phone survey was conducted, inviting people aged 18 or older to complete a 37-item questionnaire that was developed based on the Thematic Household surveys in Hong Kong, findings of the health prorfessional focus group discussions on pharmacist-led patient self management and literature. Telephone numbers were randomly selected from residential phone directories. Trained interviewers invited eligible persons to participate using the "last birthday method". Associations of demographic characteristics with knowledge, attitudes and beliefs on self-medication, self-care and role of pharmacists, and spending on over-the-counter (OTC) products were analysed statistically.
A total of 1, 560 phone calls were successfully made and 1, 104 respondents completed the survey which indicated a response rate of 70.8%. 63.1% had adequate knowledge on using OTC products. Those who had no formal education/had attended primary education (OR = 3.19, 95%CI 1.78-5.72; p < 0.001), had attended secondary education (OR = 1.50, 95%CI 1.03-2.19; p = 0.035), and aged ≥60 years (OR = 1.82, 95% CI 1.02-3.26; p = 0.042) were more likely to have inadequate knowledge on self-medication. People with chronic disease also tended to spend more than HKD100 on western (OR = 3.58, 95%CI 1.58-8.09; p = 0.002) and Chinese OTC products (OR = 2.94, 95%CI 1.08-7.95; p = 0.034). 94.6% believed that patients with chronic illnesses should self-manage their diseases. 68% agreed that they would consult a pharmacist before using OTC product but only 45% agreed that pharmacists could play a leading role in self-care. Most common reasons against pharmacist consultation on self-medication and self-care were uncertainty over the role of pharmacists and low acceptance level of pharmacists.
The majority of respondents supported patients with chronic illness to self-manage their diseases but less than half agreed to use a pharmacist-led approach in self-care. The government should consider developing doctors-pharmacists partnership programs in the community, enhancing the role of pharmacists in primary care and providing education to patients to improve their awareness on the role of pharmacists in self-medication and self-care.
PMCID: PMC3252282  PMID: 22118309
4.  Barriers to effective discharge planning: a qualitative study investigating the perspectives of frontline healthcare professionals 
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3190337  PMID: 21955544
5.  Risk factors of hospitalization and readmission of patients with COPD in Hong Kong population: Analysis of hospital admission records 
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3146405  PMID: 21679471
7.  Use of chinese and western over-the-counter medications in Hong Kong 
Chinese Medicine  2010;5:41.
Benefits of engaging community pharmacists in providing wider primary care are internationally acknowledged; in Hong Kong, however, strategies for harnessing their potential contributions are yet to be launched. Here, community pharmacist and Chinese medicine retailers are responsible for providing western and Chinese over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Patterns of OTC uses reflect the characteristics of populations who rely on community pharmacists and Chinese medicine retailers as their main point of contact with the healthcare system. Analyzing the data from a Hong Kong survey (n = 33,263) on self medication and medical consultation patterns, we propose, in this article, an extended role for community pharmacists and Chinese medicine retailers, which entails aspects as follows: (1) referring patients to other medical services where appropriate; (2) providing health education and preventative services; (3) safeguarding the use of Chinese herbal medicines.
PMCID: PMC3004905  PMID: 21143942
8.  Age, chronic non-communicable disease and choice of traditional Chinese and western medicine outpatient services in a Chinese population 
In 1997 Hong Kong reunified with China and the development of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) started with this change in national identity. However, the two latest discussion papers on Hong Kong's healthcare reform have failed to mention the role of TCM in primary healthcare, despite TCM's public popularity and its potential in tackling the chronic non-communicable disease (NCD) challenge in the ageing population. This study aims to describe the interrelationship between age, non-communicable disease (NCD) status, and the choice of TCM and western medicine (WM) services in the Hong Kong population.
This study is a secondary analysis of the Thematic Household Survey (THS) 2005 dataset. The THS is a Hong Kong population representative face to face survey was conducted by the Hong Kong Administrative Region Government of China. A random sample of respondents aged >15 years were invited to report their use of TCM and WM in the past year, together with other health and demographic information. A total of 33,263 persons were interviewed (response rate 79.2%).
Amongst those who received outpatient services in the past year (n = 18,087), 80.23% only visited WM doctors, 3.17% consulted TCM practitioners solely, and 16.60% used both type of services (double consulters). Compared to those who only consulted WM doctor, multinomial logistic regression showed that double consulters were more likely to be older, female, NCD patients, and have higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Further analysis showed that the association between age and double consulting was curvilinear (inverted U shaped) regardless of NCD status. Middle aged (45-60 years) NCD patients, and the NCD free "young old" group (60-75 years) were most likely to double consult. On the other hand, the relationship between age and use of TCM as an alternative to WM was linear regardless of NCD status. The NCD free segment of the population was more inclined to use TCM alone as they become older.
In Hong Kong, most patients have chosen WM provided in the public sector as their sole outpatient service provider for NCD. Amongst TCM service users, middle aged NCD patients are more likely to choose both TCM and WM outpatient services. Meanwhile, older people without NCD are more likely to use TCM as their main form of care, but the size of this population group is small. These utilization patterns show that patients choose both modalities to manage their NCD and TCM should be considered within policies for supporting patients with NCD under the wider primary health and social care system that supports patient choice.
PMCID: PMC2779812  PMID: 19917139

Results 1-8 (8)