Editor’s Notebook: PSQH Turns Five

July / August 2009

Editor’s Notebook

PSQH Turns Five

With this issue, Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (PSQH) reaches its fifth anniversary, which prompts me to take a moment and think about how much the world has changed and stayed the same in the past five years. When we published the first issue, in July 2004, the patient safety community was discussing how much progress—if any—had been made since the IOM published To Err Is Human five years earlier, and now we are assessing progress made over the past 10 years. In July 2004, American troops had been in Iraq for more than a year, Facebook was six months old, and Barack Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

The first issue of PSQH included articles that are still relevant today. For example, there was one about a community hospital taking its first steps toward CPOE implementation and another about using Six Sigma to reduce surgical site infections. Two authors in that first issue—Barry Chaiken and Sanjaya Kumar—have also contributed to the current issue. (Special thanks to Barry, who has appeared in every issue of PSQH.) Should I be discouraged that it would be hard to say which of Barry’s and Sanjaya’s four article topics—RFID, web-based tools for quality improvement, clinical decision support, and medication safety—appeared in 2004 vs. 2009? A closer look at each article provides hints as to its age, but it is true that improvement has been slow, much work remains to be done, and some topics are perennial. While we will continue to benefit from technological advancements and more sophisticated measurement, there will always be a place and need for articles about communication, teamwork, and “doing the right thing.” I’m tempted to say that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The publishing business certainly has changed, especially in the past year, with various social media playing increasingly important roles for journalists, readers, organizations, and vendors. In late May, we launched the PSQH blog on the home page of our web site (www.psqh.com), to which we invite readers to contribute essays and comments. In the past few months, I have come to rely on Twitter (www.twitter.com/SusanCarr) for information, networking, outreach on behalf of PSQH, and a surprisingly personal level of comradery. We’re still considering Facebook and LinkedIn options for the magazine.

The influence of social media—described as crowdsourcing, personal empowerment, and a boat load of other buzzwords—is seen not only in the way we communicate about healthcare but also in the way patients relate to physicians, participate in their own care, and control their health and health information. Looking forward from this 5-year milestone, the changing role of the patient/consumer is the obvious, significant shift already underway. While healthcare professionals will remain the core audience for PSQH, I expect that informed, proactive healthcare consumers will be joining us in greater numbers in print and especially online.

Thanks to all of our readers, authors, sponsors, Advisory Board members, and others who  continue to make every day interesting and worthwhile.