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We Want to Know

Detecting, Addressing and Learning from Patient-Perceived Breakdowns in Care: We Want to Know

Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Grant Number 1R18HS022757) We Want to Know (WWTK) brings the patient voice to bridge the gaps in care quality, safety, and experience by a multi-modal campaign encouraging patients and family members to speak up about perceived breakdowns in care and a WWTK specialist, who will work to ensure that patients’ concerns are addressed, and that relevant safety information is captured and fed back to the system. This MIQS work is being led at MedStar Health by Kelly Smith, Ph.D. in collaboration with the project principal investigator Kathleen Mazor, Ed.D. (University of Massachusetts) and co-investigator Thomas Gallagher, M.D. (University of Washington). See publications from this project here.

For more information contact our project team at [email protected].

Or visit the project website:

Hearing your concerns. Partnering for solutions.
Patients and family members have critical insights into care experiences, including information about adverse events. However, many patients “suffer in silence” when they suspect a breakdown in communication or care, believing that reporting is ineffective, fearing repercussions, or not knowing who to tell. As a result, providers and healthcare organizations remain unaware of patients’ concerns, and are ill-equipped to prevent recurrences. The We Want to Know program is an intensive, multimodal campaign designed to encourage patients to speak up, and strategies for providing real-time responses to patients’ concerns.

What is We Want To Know?
We Want to Know is a tool for improving two-way communication capabilities so that patients can report problems and concerns as they happen or after discharge.

Patients sometimes believe a significant, harmful breakdown may have happened in their care. They worry they might be on the wrong medication, they are having serious side effects, their diagnosis may be incorrect, or that a major communication problem has occurred. Yet, more than not, patients do not share their concerns with the health care system, fearing that speaking up might adversely affect their care.

In addition to gathering information about patients’ opinions about their care, We Want to Know will create an opportunity for real-time responses to patient concerns. Call centers will be staffed by response navigators, who will work in partnership with patient safety and quality experts, as well as providers. This will ensure that issues are addressed appropriately, according to magnitude and degree of urgency.

What is the purpose of the program?
We Want to Know is a new tool for improving two—way communication capabilities at MedStar, allowing patients to report problems and concerns they as they happen or after discharge. These reports will contain information that is critical to improving quality and safety and patient perceptions of care at MedStar. The program will also provide a forum for patients who were concerned that their questions may have otherwise adversely affected their care. Ultimately, “we want to know” how patients experience our care delivery, and what we can do to improve. MedStar recognizes that patients’ time is valuable and that We Want to Know may help them to more simply and efficiently communicate breakdowns in their care.

Why do patients hesitate to voice their concerns? 
Fear that voicing concerns will negatively impact care
Don’t want provider to “catch heck”
Focused on getting well
Want to put problems in the past; focus on the future
Uncertain how to report
Expect that reporting will not help

Departments Working on We Want to Know
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
MedStar Harbor Hospital
MedStar Montgomery Medical Center
MedStar National Rehabilitation Network
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Center
MedStar Union Memorial Hospital Center
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
MedStar Washington Hospital Center