What is a flashmob in medical research?

Flashmob research is a novel type of research that allows the investigation of important questions on a large scale in a short period of time. Multiple hospitals, with the help of the professional and social networks of their medical staff,  can obtain sufficient data in a short time course with far little impact on each participating unit.

Who is behind this project?

We are a group of acute and emergency physicians from the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Singapore and the UK, the safer@home research consortium. Our current project is supported by the Dutch Acute Medicine Society (DAM) and the Society of Acute Medicine in the UK (SAM).

What was the rationale of the last flashmob (GPS@Acute)?

One of the priorities for improving the quality of care is to make care more patient centered. Current acute medical practice focuses  strongly on the medical diagnosis and treatment of the medical condition. Much of the conversations in these settings are about the patients and not actually with them. This medical focus often does not take into account the patient’s needs, values and preferences. It also provides little opportunity for patients and their loved ones to actively participate in designing a treatment plan with outcomes that are most relevant for them. A doctor’s focus is for example often on ‘treating the infection’, while the patient might be more concerned about ‘will I be able to be back at work next week?  Focusing more on what actually matters to patients may lead to better outcomes and patient satisfaction because it goes beyond the ‘sick role’ of the patient and contributes to patient involvement.

What is the design of the study?

An international prospective observational 48 hours multi-center study. The data collection was  conducted among acutely admitted medical patients within 24 hours of admission through ED/AMU.

Setting: Acute Medical Units and other  medical admission units admitting  acute medical patients.

Recruitment: Each participating hospital asked all patients of 18 years and older within 24 hours of admission admitted with an acute medical condition during the 50 hours flash mob.

Data collection: The dataset contains no directly identifiable patient data. Data collection took less than 5 minutes per patient.

What were the inclusion criteria?

Age of 18 years and older with an unplanned admission due to an acute medical condition. Patients were included within 24 hrs after the decision to admit the patient. The patients were mentally competent and able to understand the study and to give informed consent.

What were the exclusion criteria?

Age under 18 years, lack of ability to give informed consent, patient not reached within 24 hours after decision to admit, non-medical patient.

What are the findings of this study?

The most reported answers to “what matters most (and why)?” were getting better or being in good health’ (why: to be with family/friends or pick-up life again), ‘getting home’ (why: more comfortable at home or to take care of someone) and ‘having a diagnosis’ (why: to feel less anxious or insecure). Of all patients, 51.9% felt the treating doctor did not know what mattered most to them. The priorities for acutely admitted patients were disease- and care-oriented and thus in line with the hospitals’ own priorities. However, answers to why these were important were diverse, more personal, and often related to psychological well-being and relations..

Explicitly asking patients what is important and why, could help healthcare professionals to get to know the person behind the patient, which is essential in delivering patient-centred care.

Where can I access the article?

It has been published in the journal BMC Health Services Research where it can be accessed on their website and downloaded as a pdf.