The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Department of Pediatrics 2017 Annual Report

Community Health Emergency Medicine

Video-recorded discharge improves communications

As a pediatric emergency medicine fellow, Benjamin Heilbrunn, MD, often found it difficult to interpret the reasons primary care physicians were sending their patients to the emergency department (ED).

Patients and families often could not relay the medical explanation given to them, or they would simply hand Heilbrunn a scrap of paper with frequently illegible handwriting. In turn, he suspected that primary care physicians also received fragmented information from families after they left the ED or delayed discharge summaries. His concern was that this communication disconnect resulted in medical errors, lack of follow-up care and missed test results.

Allison Kniola with patient Timothy Wilson and Benjamin Heilbrunn, MD

In September 2016, Heilbrunn, now an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago, began working with Clinical Research Coordinator Allison Kniola and Associate Professor of Pediatrics Larry Gray, MD, to survey how often primary care providers received a discharge communication from patient encounters at the Comer Children’s Emergency Department.

They learned that primary care physicians were only aware of approximately 30 percent of their patients’ visits to the Comer Children’s ED. Heilbrunn says this finding is consistent with studies of adult in-hospital discharges but is the first to quantify pediatric emergency activity.

To improve communication between the ED and primary care providers, Heilbrunn collaborated with the Patient Experience Office and Vocera Communications to develop the Good-to-Go PCP Communication application. Through this innovative, internet-based medium, an ED physician or nurse records patient discharge instructions and clinical status on an iPad. The video is immediately transmitted to the primary care physician, who receives an alert, opens the app and plays the short video.

Video-recorded discharge helps us avoid any miscommunication that comes from having patients be the main source of medical information.

~ Benjamin Heilbrunn, MD

After creating the platform, the team contacted 70 primary care pediatricians on Chicago’s South Side. Fifteen agreed to participate in the pilot program and the first video was transmitted in February 2017. Heilbrunn says many of the participants are pleased with the program, especially the ability to receive a real-time clinical status on their patients.

“Effective communication between pediatric EDs, primary care physicians and families is vital for patient safety and continuity of care,” Heilbrunn says. “Video-recorded discharge helps us avoid any miscommunication that comes from having patients be the main source of medical information.”

Heilbrunn’s hope is to operationalize the tool so it becomes the norm across the University of Chicago Medicine. “That would be a tremendous leap forward in how we care for patients, communicate with physicians and respect their role as the primary care providers for these patients,” he says.

Academic Appointments

  • Ebele Chinwuba, MD

    Clinical Associate of Pediatrics

  • Patrick Dolan, MD

    Clinical Associate of Pediatrics

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
    Associate Director, Fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine

  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics
    Pediatric Emergency Medicine Medical Director
    Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness

  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics
    Associate Chair for Education
    Director, Fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine
    Director, Pediatrics Residency Training Program

  • Adriana Orozco-Kellermeier, MD

    Clinical Associate of Pediatrics

  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics
    Course Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Elective
    Pediatric Site Director, Emergency Medicine Clerkship

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
    Child Protective Services Liaison

  • Thomas Senko, DO

    Clinical Associate of Pediatrics

  • Associate Professor of Pediatrics
    Chief Experience and Engagement Officer

Next: Academic Pediatrics