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1.  Identifying and explaining the variability in development and implementation costs of disease management programs in the Netherlands 
In the Netherlands, disease management programs (DMPs) are used to treat chronic diseases. Their aim is to improve care and to control the rising expenditures related to chronic diseases. A bundled payment was introduced to facilitate the implementation of DMPs. This payment is an all-inclusive price per patient per year for a pre-specified care package. However, it is unclear to which extent the costs of developing and implementing DMPs are included in this price. Consequently, the organizations providing DMPs bear financial risk because the development and implementation (D&I) costs may be substantial. The aim of this paper is to investigate the variability in and drivers of D&I costs among 22 DMPs and highlight characteristics that impact these.
The data was analyzed using a mixed methods approach. Descriptive statistical analysis explored the variability in D&I costs as measured by a self-developed costing instrument and investigated the drivers. In addition, qualitative research, including document analysis and interviews, was conducted to explain the possible underlying reasons of cost variability.
The development costs varied from €5,891 to €274,783 and the implementation costs varied from €7,278 to €387,879 across DMPs. Personnel costs were the main component of development. Development costs were strongly correlated with the implementation costs (ρ = 0.55), development duration (ρ = 0.74), and number of FTEs dedicated DMP development. Organizations with large size and high level of care prior to the implementation of a DMP had relatively low development costs. These findings were in line with the cross-case qualitative comparison where programs with a longer history, more experienced project leadership, previously established ICT systems, and less complex patient populations had lower D&I costs.
There is wide variation in D&I costs of DMPs, which is driven primarily by the duration of the development phase and the staff needed to develop and implement a DMP. These drivers are influenced by the attributes of the DMP, characteristics of the target population, project leadership, and ICT involved. There are indications of economies of scale and economies of scope, which may reduce D&I costs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0518-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4210477  PMID: 25343967
Chronic disease; Cardiovascular risk; COPD; Disease management; Integrated care; Costs; The Netherlands; ICT
2.  The management of cardiovascular disease in the Netherlands: analysis of different programmes 
Disease management programmes are increasingly used to improve the efficacy and effectiveness of chronic care delivery. But, disease management programme development and implementation is a complex undertaking that requires effective decision-making. Choices made in the earliest phases of programme development are crucial, as they ultimately impact costs, outcomes and sustainability.
To increase our understanding of the choices that primary healthcare practices face when implementing such programmes and to stimulate successful implementation and sustainability, we compared the early implementation of eight cardiovascular disease management programmes initiated and managed by healthcare practices in various regions of the Netherlands. Using a mixed-methods design, we identified differences in and challenges to programme implementation in terms of context, patient characteristics, disease management level, healthcare utilisation costs, development costs and health-related quality of life.
Shifting to a multidisciplinary, patient-centred care pathway approach to disease management is demanding for organisations, professionals and patients, and is especially vulnerable when sustainable change is the goal. Funding is an important barrier to sustainable implementation of cardiovascular disease management programmes, although development costs of the individual programmes varied considerably in relation to the length of the development period. The large number of professionals involved in combination with duration of programme development was the largest cost drivers. While Information and Communication Technology systems to support the new care pathways did not directly contribute to higher costs, delays in implementation indirectly did.
Developing and implementing cardiovascular disease management programmes is time-consuming and challenging. Multidisciplinary, patient-centred care demands multifaceted changes in routine care. As care pathways become more complex, they also become more expensive. Better preparedness and training can prevent unnecessary delays during the implementation period and are crucial to reducing costs.
PMCID: PMC3807633  PMID: 24167456
cardiovascular disease management; integrated care pathways; chronic care delivery; programme implementation; the Netherlands
3.  Disease management projects and the Chronic Care Model in action: baseline qualitative research 
Disease management programs, especially those based on the Chronic Care Model (CCM), are increasingly common in the Netherlands. While disease management programs have been well-researched quantitatively and economically, less qualitative research has been done. The overall aim of the study is to explore how disease management programs are implemented within primary care settings in the Netherlands; this paper focuses on the early development and implementation stages of five disease management programs in the primary care setting, based on interviews with project leadership teams.
Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted at the five selected sites with sixteen professionals interviewed; all project directors and managers were interviewed. The interviews focused on each project’s chosen chronic illness (diabetes, eating disorders, COPD, multi-morbidity, CVRM) and project plan, barriers to development and implementation, the project leaders’ action and reactions, as well as their roles and responsibilities, and disease management strategies. Analysis was inductive and interpretive, based on the content of the interviews. After analysis, the results of this research on disease management programs and the Chronic Care Model are viewed from a traveling technology framework.
This analysis uncovered four themes that can be mapped to disease management and the Chronic Care Model: (1) changing the health care system, (2) patient-centered care, (3) technological systems and barriers, and (4) integrating projects into the larger system. Project leaders discussed the paths, both direct and indirect, for transforming the health care system to one that addresses chronic illness. Patient-centered care was highlighted as needed and a paradigm shift for many. Challenges with technological systems were pervasive. Project leaders managed the expenses of a traveling technology, including the social, financial, and administration involved.
At the sites, project leaders served as travel guides, assisting and overseeing the programs as they traveled from the global plans to local actions. Project leaders, while hypothetically in control of the programs, in fact shared control of the traveling of the programs with patients, clinicians, and outside consultants. From this work, we can learn what roadblocks and expenses occur while a technology travels, from a project leader’s point of view.
PMCID: PMC3464135  PMID: 22578251
4.  A framework and a measurement instrument for sustainability of work practices in long-term care 
In health care, many organizations are working on quality improvement and/or innovation of their care practices. Although the effectiveness of improvement processes has been studied extensively, little attention has been given to sustainability of the changed work practices after implementation. The objective of this study is to develop a theoretical framework and measurement instrument for sustainability. To this end sustainability is conceptualized with two dimensions: routinization and institutionalization.
The exploratory methodological design consisted of three phases: a) framework development; b) instrument development; and c) field testing in former improvement teams in a quality improvement program for health care (N teams = 63, N individual = 112). Data were collected not until at least one year had passed after implementation.
Underlying constructs and their interrelations were explored using Structural Equation Modeling and Principal Component Analyses. Internal consistency was computed with Cronbach's alpha coefficient. A long and a short version of the instrument are proposed.
The χ2- difference test of the -2 Log Likelihood estimates demonstrated that the hierarchical two factor model with routinization and institutionalization as separate constructs showed a better fit than the one factor model (p < .01). Secondly, construct validity of the instrument was strong as indicated by the high factor loadings of the items. Finally, the internal consistency of the subscales was good.
The theoretical framework offers a valuable starting point for the analysis of sustainability on the level of actual changed work practices. Even though the two dimensions routinization and institutionalization are related, they are clearly distinguishable and each has distinct value in the discussion of sustainability. Finally, the subscales conformed to psychometric properties defined in literature. The instrument can be used in the evaluation of improvement projects.
PMCID: PMC3234291  PMID: 22087884
5.  A longitudinal, multi-level comparative study of quality and safety in European hospitals: the QUASER study protocol 
although there is a wealth of information available about quality improvement tools and techniques in healthcare there is little understanding about overcoming the challenges of day-to-day implementation in complex organisations like hospitals. The 'Quality and Safety in Europe by Research' (QUASER) study will investigate how hospitals implement, spread and sustain quality improvement, including the difficulties they face and how they overcome them.
The overall aim of the study is to explore relationships between the organisational and cultural characteristics of hospitals and how these impact on the quality of health care; the findings will be designed to help policy makers, payers and hospital managers understand the factors and processes that enable hospitals in Europe to achieve-and sustain-high quality services for their patients.
in-depth multi-level (macro, meso and micro-system) analysis of healthcare quality policies and practices in 5 European countries, including longitudinal case studies in a purposive sample of 10 hospitals. The project design has three major features:
• a working definition of quality comprising three components: clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient experience
• a conceptualisation of quality as a human, social, technical and organisational accomplishment
• an emphasis on translational research that is evidence-based and seeks to provide strategic and practical guidance for hospital practitioners and health care policy makers in the European Union.
Throughout the study we will adopt a mixed methods approach, including qualitative (in-depth, narrative-based, ethnographic case studies using interviews, and direct non-participant observation of organisational processes) and quantitative research (secondary analysis of safety and quality data, for example: adverse incident reporting; patient complaints and claims).
the protocol is based on the premise that future research, policy and practice need to address the sociology of improvement in equal measure to the science and technique of improvement, or at least expand the discipline of improvement to include these critical organisational and cultural processes. We define the 'organisational and cultural characteristics associated with better quality of care' in a broad sense that encompasses all the features of a hospital that might be hypothesised to impact upon clinical effectiveness, patient safety and/or patient experience.
PMCID: PMC3212959  PMID: 22029712
6.  Creating effective quality-improvement collaboratives: a multiple case study 
BMJ quality & safety  2011;20(4):344-350.
To explore whether differences between collaboratives with respect to type of topic, type of targets, measures (systems) are also reflected in the degree of effectiveness.
Study setting
182 teams from long-term healthcare organisation developed improvement initiatives in seven quality-improvement collaboratives (QICs) focusing on patient safety and autonomy.
Study design
Multiple case before–after study.
Data collection
75 team leaders completed a written questionnaire at the end of each QIC on achievability and degree of challenge of targets and measurability of progress. Main outcome indicators were collaborative-specific measures (such as prevalence of pressure ulcers).
Principal findings
The degree of effectiveness and percentage of teams realising targets varied between collaboratives. Collaboratives also varied widely in perceived measurability (F=6.798 and p=0.000) and with respect to formulating achievable targets (F=6.566 and p=0.000). The Problem Behaviour collaborative scored significantly lower than all other collaboratives on both dimensions. The collaborative on Autonomy and control scored significantly lower on measurability than the other collaboratives. Topics for which there are best practices and evidence of effective interventions do not necessarily score higher on effectiveness, measurability, achievable and challenging targets.
The effectiveness of a QIC is associated with the efforts of programme managers to create conditions that provide insight into which changes in processes of care and in client outcomes have been made. Measurability is not an inherent property of the improvement topic. Rather, creating measurability and formulating challenging and achievable targets is one of the crucial tasks for programme managers of QICs.
PMCID: PMC3066797  PMID: 21270070
Quality improvement collaborative; effectiveness; patient safety; collaborative; healthcare quality improvement
7.  Evaluation of a large scale implementation of disease management programmes in various Dutch regions: a study protocol 
Disease management programmes (DMPs) have been developed to improve effectiveness and economic efficiency within chronic care delivery by combining patient-related, professional-directed, and organisational interventions. The benefits of DMPs within different settings, patient groups, and versions remain unclear. In this article we propose a protocol to evaluate a range of current DMPs by capturing them in a single conceptual framework, employing comparable structure, process, and outcome measures, and combining qualitative and quantitative research methods.
To assess DMP effectiveness a practical clinical trial will be conducted. Twenty-two disease management experiments will be studied in various Dutch regions consisting of a variety of collaborations between organisations and/or professionals. Patient cohorts include those with cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, psychotic diseases, and eating disorders. Our methodological approach combines qualitative and quantitative research methods to enable a comprehensive evaluation of complex programmes. Process indicators will be collected from health care providers' data registries and measured via physician and staff questionnaires. Patient questionnaires include health care experiences, health care utilisation, and quality of life. Qualitative data will be gathered by means of interviews and document analysis for an in depth description of project interventions and the contexts in which DMPs are embedded, and an ethnographic process evaluation in five DMPs. Such a design will provide insight into ongoing DMPs and demonstrate which elements of the intervention are potentially (cost)-effective for which patient populations. It will also enable sound comparison of the results of the different programmes.
The study will lead to a better understanding of (1) the mechanisms of disease management, (2) the feasibility, and cost-effectiveness of a disease management approach to improving health care, and (3) the factors that determine success and failure of DMPs. Our study results will be relevant to decision makers and managers who confront the challenge of implementing and integrating DMPs into the health care system. Moreover, it will contribute to the search for methods to evaluate complex healthcare interventions.
PMCID: PMC3025828  PMID: 21219620
8.  Opening the black box of quality improvement collaboratives: an Actor-Network theory approach 
Quality improvement collaboratives are often labeled as black boxes because effect studies usually do not describe exactly how the results were obtained. In this article we propose a way of opening such a black box, by taking up a dynamic perspective based on Actor-Network Theory. We thereby analyze how the problematisation process and the measurement practices are constructed. Findings from this analysis may have consequences for future evaluation studies of collaboratives.
In an ethnographic design we probed two projects within a larger quality improvement collaborative on long term mental health care and care for the intellectually disabled. Ethnographic observations were made at nine national conferences. Furthermore we conducted six case studies involving participating teams. Additionally, we interviewed the two program leaders of the overall projects.
In one project the problematisation seemed to undergo a shift of focus away from the one suggested by the project leaders. In the other we observed multiple roles of the measurement instrument used. The instrument did not only measure effects of the improvement actions but also changed these actions and affected the actors involved.
Effectiveness statistics ideally should be complemented with an analysis of the construction of the collaborative and the improvement practices. Effect studies of collaboratives could benefit from a mixed methods research design that combines quantitative and qualitative methods.
PMCID: PMC2944272  PMID: 20825648
9.  Cost-effectiveness of a pressure ulcer quality collaborative 
A quality improvement collaborative (QIC) in the Dutch long-term care sector (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care) used evidence-based prevention methods to reduce the incidence and prevalence of pressure ulcers (PUs). The collaborative consisted of a core team of experts and 25 organizational project teams. Our aim was to determine its cost-effectiveness from a healthcare perspective.
We used a non-controlled pre-post design to establish the change in incidence and prevalence of PUs in 88 patients over the course of a year. Staff indexed data and prevention methods (activities, materials). Quality of life (Qol) weights were assigned to the PU states. We assessed the costs of activities and materials in the project. A Markov model was built based on effectiveness and cost data, complemented with a probabilistic sensitivity analysis. To illustrate the results of longer term, three scenarios were created in which change in incidence and prevalence measures were (1) not sustained, (2) partially sustained, and (3) completely sustained.
Incidence of PUs decreased from 15% to 4.5% for the 88 patients. Prevalence decreased from 38.6% to 22.7%. Average Quality of Life (Qol) of patients increased by 0.02 Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY)s in two years; healthcare costs increased by €2000 per patient; the Incremental Cost-effectiveness Ratio (ICER) was between 78,500 and 131,000 depending on whether the changes in incidence and prevalence of PU were sustained.
During the QIC PU incidence and prevalence significantly declined. When compared to standard PU care, the QIC was probably more costly and more effective in the short run, but its long-term cost-effectiveness is questionable. The QIC can only be cost-effective if the changes in incidence and prevalence of PU are sustained.
PMCID: PMC2895580  PMID: 20515473
10.  Quantitative data management in quality improvement collaboratives 
Collaborative approaches in quality improvement have been promoted since the introduction of the Breakthrough method. The effectiveness of this method is inconclusive and further independent evaluation of the method has been called for. For any evaluation to succeed, data collection on interventions performed within the collaborative and outcomes of those interventions is crucial. Getting enough data from Quality Improvement Collaboratives (QICs) for evaluation purposes, however, has proved to be difficult. This paper provides a retrospective analysis on the process of data management in a Dutch Quality Improvement Collaborative. From this analysis general failure and success factors are identified.
This paper discusses complications and dilemma's observed in the set-up of data management for QICs. An overview is presented of signals that were picked up by the data management team. These signals were used to improve the strategies for data management during the program and have, as far as possible, been translated into practical solutions that have been successfully implemented.
The recommendations coming from this study are:
From our experience it is clear that quality improvement programs deviate from experimental research in many ways. It is not only impossible, but also undesirable to control processes and standardize data streams. QIC's need to be clear of data protocols that do not allow for change. It is therefore minimally important that when quantitative results are gathered, these results are accompanied by qualitative results that can be used to correctly interpret them.
Monitoring and data acquisition interfere with routine. This makes a database collecting data in a QIC an intervention in itself. It is very important to be aware of this in reporting the results. Using existing databases when possible can overcome some of these problems but is often not possible given the change objective of QICs.
Introducing a standardized spreadsheet to the teams is a very practical and helpful tool in collecting standardized data within a QIC. It is vital that the spreadsheets are handed out before baseline measurements start.
PMCID: PMC2761898  PMID: 19781101
11.  Telemedicine in interdisciplinary work practices: On an IT system that met the criteria for success set out by its sponsors, yet failed to become part of every-day clinical routines 
Information systems can play a key role in care innovations including task redesign and shared care. Many demonstration projects have presented evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness and high levels of patient satisfaction. Yet these same projects often fail to become part of everyday clinical routines. The aim of the paper is to gain insight into a common paradox that a technology can meet the criteria for success set out at the start of the project yet fail to become part of everyday clinical routines.
We evaluated a telecare service set up to reduce the workload of ophthalmologists. In this project, optometrists in 10 optical shops made digital images to detect patients with glaucoma which were further assessed by trained technicians in the hospital. Over a period of three years, we conducted interviews with the project team and the users about the workability of the system and its integration in practice. Beside the interviews, we analyzed record data to measure the quality of the images. We compared the qualitative accounts with these measurements.
According to our measurements, the quality of the images was at least satisfactory in 90% of the cases, i.e. the images could be used to screen the patients – reducing the workload of the ophthalmologist considerably. However, both the ophthalmologist and the optometrists became increasingly dissatisfied respectively with the perceived quality of the pictures and the perceived workload.
Through a detailed analysis of how the professionals discussed the quality of the pictures, we re-constructed how the notion of quality of the images and being a good professional were constructed and linked. The IT system transformed into a quality system and, at the same time, transformed the notions of being a good professional. While a continuous dialogue about the quality of the pictures became an emblem for the quality of care, this dialogue was hindered by the system and the way the care process was structured.
To conceptualize what telemedicine does in interdisciplinary work practices, a fine-tuned analysis is needed to assess how IT systems re-shape the social relations between professional groups. Such transformations should not be exclusively attributed to the technology itself or to the professionals working with it. Instead we need to assess these technologies through an empirically grounded study of the sociotechnical functioning of telemedicine.
PMCID: PMC2615749  PMID: 18954428
12.  Databases as policy instruments. About extending networks as evidence-based policy 
This article seeks to identify the role of databases in health policy. Access to information and communication technologies has changed traditional relationships between the state and professionals, creating new systems of surveillance and control. As a result, databases may have a profound effect on controlling clinical practice.
We conducted three case studies to reconstruct the development and use of databases as policy instruments. Each database was intended to be employed to control the use of one particular pharmaceutical in the Netherlands (growth hormone, antiretroviral drugs for HIV and Taxol, respectively). We studied the archives of the Dutch Health Insurance Board, conducted in-depth interviews with key informants and organized two focus groups, all focused on the use of databases both in policy circles and in clinical practice.
Our results demonstrate that policy makers hardly used the databases, neither for cost control nor for quality assurance. Further analysis revealed that these databases facilitated self-regulation and quality assurance by (national) bodies of professionals, resulting in restrictive prescription behavior amongst physicians.
The databases fulfill control functions that were formerly located within the policy realm. The databases facilitate collaboration between policy makers and physicians, since they enable quality assurance by professionals. Delegating regulatory authority downwards into a network of physicians who control the use of pharmaceuticals seems to be a good alternative for centralized control on the basis of monitoring data.
PMCID: PMC2194767  PMID: 18062824
13.  Tailoring intervention procedures to routine primary health care practice; an ethnographic process evaluation 
Tailor-made approaches enable the uptake of interventions as they are seen as a way to overcome the incompatibility of general interventions with local knowledge about the organisation of routine medical practice and the relationship between the patients and the professionals in practice. Our case is the Quattro project which is a prevention programme for cardiovascular diseases in high-risk patients in primary health care centres in deprived neighbourhoods. This programme was implemented as a pragmatic trial and foresaw the importance of local knowledge in primary health care and internal, or locally made, guidelines. The aim of this paper is to show how this prevention programme, which could be tailored to routine care, was implemented in primary care.
An ethnographic design was used for this study. We observed and interviewed the researchers and the practice nurses. All the research documents, observations and transcribed interviews were analysed thematically.
Our ethnographic process evaluation showed that the opportunity of tailoring intervention procedures to routine care in a pragmatic trial setting did not result in a well-organised and well-implemented prevention programme. In fact, the lack of standard protocols hindered the implementation of the intervention. Although it was not the purpose of this trial, a guideline was developed. Despite the fact that the developed guideline functioned as a tool, it did not result in the intervention being organised accordingly. However, the guideline did make tailoring the intervention possible. It provided the professionals with the key or the instructions needed to achieve organisational change and transform the existing interprofessional relations.
As tailor-made approaches are developed to enable the uptake of interventions in routine practice, they are facilitated by the brokering of tools such as guidelines. In our study, guidelines facilitated organisational change and enabled the transformation of existing interprofessional relations, and thus made tailoring possible. The attractive flexibility of pragmatic trial design in taking account of local practice variations may often be overestimated.
PMCID: PMC1959520  PMID: 17683627
14.  Inter-organisational communication networks in healthcare: centralised versus decentralised approaches 
To afford efficient and high quality care, healthcare providers increasingly need to exchange patient data. The existence of a communication network amongst care providers will help them to exchange patient data more efficiently. Information and communication technology (ICT) has much potential to facilitate the development of such a communication network. Moreover, in order to offer integrated care interoperability of healthcare organizations based upon the exchanged data is of crucial importance. However, complications around such a development are beyond technical impediments.
To determine the challenges and complexities involved in building an Inter-organisational Communication network (IOCN) in healthcare and the appropriations in the strategies.
Case study
Interviews, literature review, and document analysis were conducted to analyse the developments that have taken place toward building a countrywide electronic patient record and its challenges in The Netherlands. Due to the interrelated nature of technical and non-technical problems, a socio-technical approach was used to analyse the data and define the challenges.
Organisational and cultural changes are necessary before technical solutions can be applied. There are organisational, financial, political, and ethicolegal challenges that have to be addressed appropriately. Two different approaches, one “centralised” and the other “decentralised” have been used by Dutch healthcare providers to adopt the necessary changes and cope with these challenges.
The best solutions in building an IOCN have to be drawn from both the centralised and the decentralised approaches. Local communication initiatives have to be supervised and supported centrally and incentives at the organisations' interest level have to be created to encourage the stakeholder organisations to adopt the necessary changes.
PMCID: PMC1894675  PMID: 17627296
healthcare communication network; ICT; integrated care; IT integration; interoperability
15.  Coping with methodological dilemmas; about establishing the effectiveness of interventions in routine medical practice 
The aim of this paper is to show how researchers balance between scientific rigour and localisation in conducting pragmatic trial research. Our case is the Quattro Study, a pragmatic trial on the effectiveness of multidisciplinary patient care teams used in primary health care centres in deprived neighbourhoods of two major cities in the Netherlands for intensified secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
For this study an ethnographic design was used. We observed and interviewed the researchers and the practice nurses. All gathered research documents, transcribed observations and interviews were analysed thematically.
Conducting a pragmatic trial is a continuous balancing act between meeting methodological demands and implementing a complex intervention in routine primary health care. As an effect, the research design had to be adjusted pragmatically several times and the intervention that was meant to be tailor-made became a rather stringent procedure.
A pragmatic trial research is a dynamic process that, in order to be able to assess the validity and reliability of any effects of interventions must also have a continuous process of methodological and practical reflection. Ethnographic analysis, as we show, is therefore of complementary value.
PMCID: PMC1713235  PMID: 17166255
17.  Democratisation of scientific advice 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7478):1339-1341.
Dutch experience shows how scientific advisory bodies can cope with the growing political demands for transparency and lay participation without compromising their function
PMCID: PMC534851  PMID: 15576747

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