Interdisciplinary Horizons for Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety

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Suboptimal quality and safety are a well-recognized and documented healthcare problem across the globe, even in developed countries. Preventable incidents harm at least 43 million patients across the globe each year at a cost of $132 billion in excess health care spending (Jha et al., 2013), evidencing that preventable deviations from care standards are a serious global health burden.

It is now widely recognized that the process of communication is central to every aspect of health care quality and safety. Interpersonal communication is the vehicle through which safe and high quality medical care takes place – when clinicians communicate well with colleagues and patients, health outcomes are substantially enhanced; when communication is performed poorly, both patients and clinicians are put at significant risk. In fact, ineffective interpersonal communication has been identified as one of the root causes of harmful events.

The ISCOME™ 2016 workgroup meeting focuses on the interdisciplinary tangents that advance communication science into the field of patient safety. The meeting is co-funded by ISCOME™, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS), and comprises an invitation-only gathering of 30 prominent scientists from 10 academic disciplines and 9 different countries. The workgroup will meet in May to pursue the objective to generate an innovative interdisciplinary research agenda that substantiates the following six “hot topics” of patient safety: (1) big data, (2) digital technology, (3) team coordination/integration, (4) patient/family activation, (5) healthy aging, and (6) patient-centered care.