Easing the Transition from Hospital to Home

Bonnie Nicholas, Acting Senior Director of Quality and Risk Management

A smooth transition from hospital to home is an important part of the patient journey. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has implemented a special tool across all medical units that improves the discharge process and helps patients better manage their post-hospital care.   

The Patient Oriented Discharge Summary (PODS) was co-developed by patients and health care providers and applies best practices in design and adult learning. Patients receive a set of clear and easy-to-understand instructions upon discharge including when to take their medication, what symptoms to be concerned about, and when to see their doctor next.

“For some patients and their families, the process of leaving the hospital and figuring out how to manage their condition from home can be stressful,” said Bonnie Nicholas, Acting Senior Director of Quality and Risk Management. “PODS was developed with the patient and family needs in mind, provides the valuable information that they want, and helps ensure their safe transition to home.”

One of the best qualities about PODS is that they are tailored to each patient and their specific condition. For example, patients with congestive heart failure are provided with information that includes a list of possible symptoms to watch out for and their correlated severity and cause for concern, along with next steps to follow if they are experienced.

“Our goal with implementing PODS across the Hospital was to improve patient confidence and their overall experience once they leave the Hospital,” said Nicholas. “Patient surveys have shown that PODS has been successful and our patients are very happy with the quality of information they are receiving. It’s a great tool that builds upon our Patient and Family Centred Care Philosophy.”

In addition to improving patient satisfaction rates, PODS also has a positive impact on patient outcomes. Since patients are leaving the Hospital with a better understanding of their health status, they are better equipped to adhere to their discharge instructions.

Our Hospital was able to successfully adopt PODS with support from ARTIC (Adopting Research to Improve Care), a joint program of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario and Health Quality Ontario. It was designed in collaboration with University Health Network’s OpenLab – a design and innovation group dedicated to finding creative health care solutions.

To learn more about PODS, visit www.hqontario.ca. To learn more about patient focused care at our Hospital, visit www.tbrhsc.net.