BACKGROUND:In 1991 Beth Israel Hospital (Boston) joined nine other hospitals in using the Picker/Commonwealth survey instrument to tap patients perceptions of their hospitalization experience. Beth Israel focused on one of the nine dimensions of the instrument-continuity and transition (discharge planning). FOUR WORK TEAMS: In 1992 four multidisciplinary work teams were formed-for cardiac surgical patients, stroke patients, patients on a medical unit, and patients on a medical and surgical unit. Each team conducted a patient/family discussion group, during which recently discharged patients and their families were asked about their preparation for discharge and asked for input on how to improve the process. INTERVENTIONS:Each work team developed interventions on the basis of information specific to their patients. The cardiac work team, for example, developed interdisciplinary practice guidelines for patient care management for the entire postoperative period; the guidelines include a patient education component on what patients and families can expect during hospitalization. OUTCOMES:Clinicians practice differently, inviting more patient feedback and other involvement in care, as a results of their involvement in the project. On the first annual patient survey, administered in 1994, only 6% of 1,179 randomly selected patients (versus 20% of the 100 patients first surveyed in 1993) indicated that they did not receive the information they needed to help themselves recover. CURRENT PROGRESS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS: A standardized teaching packet containing material developed during the discharge planning improvement project is now distributed. In May 1995 the nursing department launched a patient and family learning center to better meet the health education needs of patients.