Leape Ahead Award: Communication Initiative Makes Big Difference for NYC/Lincoln

By Andy Smith | AAPL
April 29, 2018

An investment in communication training to improve clinical outcomes was key in AAPL’s decision to present New York City Health & Hospitals/Lincoln with the 2018 honor. 

BOSTON, Mass. – “Unlike service industry leaders like Disney and Ritz-Carlton, who invest heavily in customer service training for their employees on an ongoing basis, we in health care fail to provide such training.”

With that one sentence, leaders at New York City Health & Hospitals/Lincoln summed up what many other physician leaders inherently know but don’t always act upon: Success hinges on patient relations and care, and there’s plenty of room for improvement.


Vipul L. Shah, MD, FACP, CPE, attending physician in the department of medicine at the New York City Health & Hospitals/Lincoln, and others from the hospital accept the Leape Ahead Award on Sunday. | AAPL

That candid assessment was a key point in their winning entry for the American Association for Physician Leadership’s 2018 Leape Ahead Award, which was presented during a luncheon Sunday at the 2018 Physician Leadership Summit.

Named for Lucian Leape, MD, chairman of the Lucian Leape Institute of the National Patient Safety Foundation, the award honors organizational efforts to improve patient safety and health care delivery while developing the skills of medical students and residents.


2012 - Helen DeVos Children's Hospital; Grand Rapids, Michigan

2013 - Brigham and Women's Hospital; Boston, Massachusetts

2014 - Christiana Care Health System; Delaware

2015 - Northwestern Medicine Academy for Quality and Safety Improvement; Illinois

2016 - Advocate Health Care’s Resident Leadership Development Institute; Park Ridge, Illinois

2017 - MUSC Health at the Medical University of South Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina

2018 - New York City Health & Hospitals/Lincoln; New York

Lincoln joined the New York State Department of Health in a collaborative effort to reduce the number of patients who are readmitted as inpatients four or more times over a 12-month period.

To accomplish its goal, Lincoln focused on “improving communication with our patients and using motivational interviewing skills to improve clinical outcomes, all while promoting interdisciplinary teamwork and patient-centered care,” says Lincoln’s associate chief medical officer, Balavenkatesh Kanna, MD, MPH, FACP.

Communication training, the organization notes, is the subject of minimal — and arguably inadequate — training at most colleges, where four-year medical students average about eight hours on the subject. However, Kanna says, “because medical residents form the backbone of our care delivery system, we are committed to investing in their training to ensure better patient outcomes. Not only will our graduate medical residents be armed with communication and motivational interviewing skills that they will use during residency to provide effective and efficient delivery of care, but it will also help them become physician leaders who will facilitate health care transformation across the United States.”

In an industry driven by value-based care and improved patient satisfaction scores, Lincoln provided training to staff and residents who participated in workshops focused on skills such as demonstrating compassion, listening with empathy, verbal versus nonverbal communication “and lessons learned from leaders in the service industry, like Disney and Ritz-Carlton.”

Recognizing the important role residents play in driving change, Lincoln plans to begin a train-the-trainer program “to ensure continuity of the program” and to expand motivational interview training while exploring expansion to the entire hospital across service lines and departments.

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