One big health care theme that has emerged recently can be summed up in three words: collaboration, coordination and continuum.

It’s almost a cliché at this point, but hospitals no longer can define themselves solely by what goes on within their four walls. Everybody involved in promoting individual and community health must cooperate a whole lot more closely than they have in the past. This issue of H&HN offers evidence that hospital leaders understand that new imperative.

Our cover story on Page 24 includes four ways hospitals are working both internally and externally to help patients with psychiatric or substance abuse issues. Example: At Atlantic Health System, behavioral care is embedded into diabetes care so that a nutritionist, a diabetes educator and a psychologist closely coordinate their work with medical staff.

Our article on Page 40 describes how providers like Catholic Health Initiatives are aligning with nursing homes to enhance post-acute care, partly by educating nursing home staff in areas like cardiac care.

In an enlightening Q&A on Page 30, Anthony Tersigni, president and CEO of Ascension Health, declares that “we are going to use the resources within the community to raise the quality of care of the community and, in many cases, it’s going to be partnering with others.” That’s why, Tersigni goes on, “when I first stated our call to action, one of the foundational components is trusted partners. We know we can’t do it alone and so we are going to need partners along the full continuum.” 

Random Musings

Dr. Oaf

“Now, if you keep me well-fed and caffeinated, I will be happy. And if I’m happy, I will feel inspired to teach you a thing or two about how to actually be a doctor.” So says a second-year resident to Matt McCarthy, M.D., a recent med school graduate, as he begins his own residency with a 30-hour shift in a hospital critical care unit. McCarthy tells an amusing and sometimes frightening tale in “Hippocratic Oaf: My First Day as a Doctor” in the April issue of The Atlantic. It’s an excerpt from McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year.

Can Tweets Alert EDs?

Using data gleaned from electronic health records, air quality sensors and Twitter, researchers at the University of Arizona created a method to predict approximately how many asthma sufferers would visit the emergency department of a Dallas hospital on a given day. The model could be adapted for other types of ailments and, says Sudha Ram, a UA professor and co-leader of the study, “could help hospital emergency departments nationwide plan better with regard to staffing and resource management.” The findings will be published in the IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

Karen and Patrick

In a haunting piece in the April 27 New York Times, Dan Barry tells the story of a mother dealing with the heartbreaking decline of her son, a former football star. If you’re a big gridiron fan who’s tired of hearing how mentally and physically debilitating the sport can be, I invite you to search online for “A Son of Football Calls His Mother.”