Patient Safety Strategy Now Available from MedStar Health Researchers

Patient Safety Strategy Now Available From MedStar Health Researchers

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As part of a contract awarded to a team of MedStar Health researchers in late 2015, the first of four intervention strategies has been released on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) website for use in primary care practices. The goal of the interventions is to improve patient safety in primary care settings by engaging patients and families. Three additional strategies will be released in the coming months.

The initial intervention is Teach-back, a communication strategy in which clinicians ask patients or family members to explain in their own words what the clinician has told them. This technique encompasses more than repeating what was heard – clinicians will ask the patients or family members to teach it back.

“Research indicates that clinicians underestimate their patients’ needs for information and overestimate their own ability to communicate effectively with patients,” said Kelly Smith, PhD, the lead researcher. “Teach-back is a low-cost, low-technology, and evidence-based health literacy intervention. It can be the gateway to better communication, better understanding, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

The work for the 38-month contract from AHRQ is being completed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers with support from across the MedStar Health network, including MHRI, SiTEL, and the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety.

To learn more about the research or download the intervention strategies, visit AHRQ’s Guide to Improving Patient Safety in Primary Care Settings by Engaging Patients and Families webpage at

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