To explore the perspectives of patients who live with multiple chronic conditions as they relate to the challenges of self-management.
On September 30, 2013, we searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL using relevant key words including chronic disease, comorbidity, multimorbidity, multiple chronic conditions, self-care, self-management, perspective, and perception.
Three reviewers assessed and extracted the data from the included studies after study quality was rated. Qualitative thematic synthesis method was then used to identify common themes. Twenty-three articles met the inclusion criteria, with most coming from the United States.
Important themes raised by people living with multiple chronic conditions related to their ability to self-manage included living with undesirable physical and emotional symptoms, with pain and depression highlighted. Issues with conflicting knowledge, access to care, and communication with health care providers were raised. The use of cognitive strategies, including reframing, prioritizing, and changing beliefs, was reported to improve people’s ability to self-manage their multiple chronic conditions.
This study provides a unique view into patients’ perspectives of living with multiple chronic conditions, which are clearly linked to common functional challenges as opposed to specific diseases. Future policy and programming in self-management support should be better aligned with patients’ perspectives on living with multiple chronic conditions. This might be achieved by ensuring a more patient-centred approach is adopted by providers and health service organizations.
Women are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease, often experiencing poorer outcomes following a cardiovascular event. Evidence points to inequities in processes of care as a potential contributing factor. This study sought to determine whether any sex differences exist in adherence to process of care guidelines for cardiovascular disease within primary care practices in Ontario, Canada.
This is a secondary analysis of pooled cross-sectional baseline data collected through a larger quality improvement initiative known as the Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC). Chart abstraction was performed for 4,931 patients from 84 primary care practices in Eastern Ontario who had, or were at high risk of, cardiovascular disease. Measures examining adherence to guidelines associated with nine areas of cardiovascular care (coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), stroke/transient ischemic attack, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, smoking cessation, and weight management) were collected. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate sex differences, adjusting for age, physician remuneration, and rurality.
Women were significantly less likely to have their lipid profiles taken (OR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.03-1.33), be prescribed lipid lowering medication for dyslipidemia (OR = 1.54, 95% CI 1.20-1.97), and to be prescribed ASA following stroke (OR = 1.56, 95% CI 1.39-1.75). Women with PVD were significantly less likely to be prescribed ACE inhibitors and/or angiotensin receptor blockers (OR = 1.74, 95% CI 1.25-2.41) and lipid lowering medications (OR = 1.95, 95% CI 1.46-2.62) or ASA (OR = 1.59, 95% CI 1.43-1.78). However, women were more likely to have two blood pressure measurements taken and to be referred to a dietician or weight loss program. Male patients with diabetes were less likely to be prescribed glycemic control medication (OR = 0.84, 95% CI 0.74-0.86).
Sex disparities exist in the quality of cardiovascular care in Canadian primary care practices, which tend to favour men. Women with PVD have a particularly high risk of not receiving appropriate medications. Our findings indicate that improvements in care delivery should be made to address these issues, particularly with regard to the prescribing of recommended medications for women, and preventive measures for men.
Sex equity; Primary care; Cardiovascular disease; Guideline adherence
Health coaching is a new intervention offering a one-on-one focused self-management support program. This study implemented a health coaching pilot in primary care clinics in Eastern Ontario, Canada to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of integrating health coaching into primary care for patients who were either at risk for or diagnosed with diabetes.
We implemented health coaching in three primary care practices. Patients with diabetes were offered six months of support from their health coach, including an initial face-to-face meeting and follow-up by email, telephone, or face-to-face according to patient preference. Feasibility was assessed through provider focus groups and qualitative data analysis methods.
All three sites were able to implement the program. A number of themes emerged from the focus groups, including the importance of physician buy-in, wide variation in understanding and implementing of the health coach role, the significant impact of different systems of team communication, and the significant effect of organizational structure and patient readiness on Health coaches’ capacity to perform their role.
It is feasible to implement health coaching as an integrated program within small primary care clinics in Canada without adding additional resources into the daily practice. Practices should review their organizational and communication processes to ensure optimal support for health coaches if considering implementing this intervention.
Although it is clear that education programs constitute key elements of improved diabetes management, uncertainty exists regarding the optimal method of delivering that education. In addition to the lack of consensus regarding the most appropriate delivery methods for these programs, there is a paucity of research which evaluates these methods in terms of specific clinical outcomes. This pragmatic study compares the effectiveness of two distinct diabetes education programs in improving clinical outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus in a primary care setting.
The two diabetes education classes (n = 80 enrolled) retrospectively evaluated were ‘the ABC’s of Diabetes’ (one 2-hour didactic teaching session) and ‘Conversation Maps’ (3 highly interactive weekly classes, 6 hours in total). Eligible participants (n = 32) had their charts reviewed and outcome measures (i.e., glycosylated hemoglobin levels (HbA1c), low density lipoprotein (LDL), systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and weight) recorded 1 year prior to and 6 months following the class. Pre- and post-class outcome measures were compared. A trend towards lower HbA1c was observed after completion of both classes, with an average reduction of 0.2%, and 0.6% after 6 months in the ‘ABC’s of Diabetes’ class and ‘Conversation Maps’ class respectively. A significant decrease in weight was observed 6 months after the ‘ABC’s of Diabetes’ class (p = 0.028), and in LDL after the ‘Conversation Maps’ class (p = 0.049). Patients with HbA1c ≥ 8% showed a drop of 1.1% in HbA1c 3 months after either class (p = 0.004).
No significant difference in outcomes was found between the two diabetes education classes assessed. There was a trend towards improved glycemic control after both classes, and patients with high HbA1c levels demonstrated statistically significant improvements. This indicates that shorter sessions using didactic teaching methods may be equally effective in producing improvements in diabetes self-management as more intensive course formats.
Type 2 diabetes; Self-management; Education program
Practice facilitation has proven to be effective at improving care delivery. Practice facilitators are healthcare professionals who work with and support other healthcare providers. To the best of our knowledge, very few studies have explored the perspective of facilitators. The objective of this study was to gain insight into the barriers that facilitators face during the facilitation process and to identify approaches used to overcome these barriers to help practices move towards positive change.
We conducted semi-structured interviews with four practice facilitators who worked with 84 primary care practices in Eastern Ontario, Canada over a period of five years (2007–2012). The transcripts were analyzed independently by three members of the research team using an open coding technique. A qualitative data analysis using immersion/crystallization technique was applied to interpret the interview transcripts.
Common barriers identified by the facilitators included accessibility to the practice (e.g., difficulty scheduling meetings, short meetings), organizational behaviour (team organization, team conflicts, etc.), challenges with practice engagement (e.g., lack of interest, lack of trust), resistance to change, and competing priorities. To help practices move towards positive change the facilitators had to tailor their approach, integrate themselves, be persistent with practices, and exhibit flexibility.
The consensus on redesigning and transforming primary care in North America and around the world is rapidly growing. Practice facilitation has been pivotal in materializing the transformation in the way primary care practices deliver care. This study provides an exclusive insight into facilitator approaches which will assist the design and implementation of small- and large-scale facilitation interventions.
Practice facilitation; Practice facilitators; Cardiovascular health; Primary care; Quality improvement; Practice culture
Several new primary care models have been implemented in Ontario, Canada over the past two decades. These practice models differ in team structure, physician remuneration, and group size. Few studies have examined the impact of these models on specialist referrals. We compared specialist referral rates amongst three primary care models: 1) Enhanced Fee-for-service, 2) Capitation- Non-Interdisciplinary (CAP-NI), 3) Capitation – Interdisciplinary (CAP-I).
We conducted a cross-sectional study using health administrative data from primary care practices in Ontario from April 1st, 2008 to March 31st, 2010. The analysis included all family physicians providing comprehensive care in one of the three models, had at least 100 patients, and did not have a prolonged absence (eight consecutive weeks). The primary outcome was referral rate (# of referrals to all medical specialties/1000 patients/year). A multivariable clustered Poisson regression analysis was used to compare referral rates between models while adjusting for provider (sex, years since graduation, foreign trained, time in current model) and patient (age, sex, income, rurality, health status) characteristics.
Fee-for-service had a significantly lower adjusted referral rate (676, 95% CI: 666-687) than the CAP-NI (719, 95% confidence interval (CI): 705-734) and CAP-I (694, 95% CI: 681-707) models and the interdisciplinary CAP-I group had a 3.5% lower referral rate than the CAP-NI group (RR = 0.965, 95% CI: 0.943-0.987, p = 0.002). Female and Canadian-trained physicians referred more often, while female, older, sicker and urban patients were more likely to be referred.
Primary care model is significantly associated with referral rate. On a study population level, these differences equate to 111,059 and 37,391 fewer referrals by fee-for-service versus CAP-NI and CAP-I, respectively – a difference of $22.3 million in initial referral appointment costs. Whether a lower rate of referral is more appropriate or not is not known and requires further investigation. Physician remuneration and team structure likely account for the differences; however, further investigation is also required to better understand whether other organizational factors associated with primary care model also impact referral.
Primary care; Specialist referral; Capitation; Primary care model
Practice facilitation has proven to be effective in improving the quality of primary care. A practice facilitator is a health professional, usually external to the practice, who regularly visits the practice to provide support in change management that targets improvements in the delivery of care. Our environmental scan shows that several initiatives across Canada utilize practice facilitation as a quality improvement method; however, many are conducted in isolation as there is a lack of coordinated effort, knowledge translation and dissemination in this field across the country. We recommend that investments be made in capacity building, knowledge exchange and facilitator training, and that partnership building be considered a priority in this field.
There is dissatisfaction among primary care physicians, specialists, and patients with respect to the consultation process. Excessive wait times for receiving specialist services and inefficient communication between practitioners result in decreased access to care and jeopardize patient safety. We created and implemented an electronic consultation (e-consultation) system in Eastern Ontario to address these problems and improve the consultation process. The e-consultation system has passed through the proof-of-concept and pilot study stages and has effectively reduced unnecessary referrals while receiving resoundingly positive feedback from physician-users. Using our experience, we have outlined the 10 steps to developing an e-consultation service. We detail the technical, administrative, and strategic considerations with respect to (1) identifying your partners, (2) choosing your platform, (3) starting as a pilot project, (4) designing your product, (5) ensuring patient privacy, (6) thinking through the process, (7) fostering relationships with your participants, (8) being prepared to provide physician payment, (9) providing feedback, and (10) planning the transition from pilot to permanency. In following these 10 steps, we believe that the e-consultation system and its associated improvements on the consultation process can be effectively implemented in other healthcare settings.
e-health; information management; telemedicine; telehealth; e-consultation
Access to specialist advice remains a barrier for primary care providers (PCPs) and their patients. Virtual consultations have been used to expedite access. There are few studies demonstrating the utilization and impact of such services. We established a regional e-consultation service that was used across a wide range of specialty services and PCPs.
Materials and Methods:
We prospectively collected all e-consultations submitted from April 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Utilization data collected included number of e-consultations submitted, specialist response, and time required for the specialist to complete the e-consultation. Perceived benefit to the PCPs and their patients and the impact on care delivery were determined from a close-out survey.
Fifty-nine PCPs submitted 406 e-consultations to 16 specialty services. The specialist provided an answer without requesting further information in 89% of cases, with >90% of cases taking <15 min for the specialist to complete. Seventy-five percent of cases were answered in <3 days. The service was perceived as highly beneficial to providers and patients in>90% of cases. In 43% of submitted cases a traditional referral was originally contemplated but was now avoided.
We successfully implemented an e-consultation service across diverse PCPs and specialty services that was highly valued. Almost half of referrals submitted would have required a face-to-face consultation if the service had not been available. Thus e-consultation has tremendous potential for improving access to specialist advice in a much more timely manner than the traditional referral–consultation process.
e-health; dermatology; telemedicine
Continuity of care is essential for good quality diabetes management. We recently found that 46% of patients defaulted from care (had no contact with the clinic for 18 months after a follow-up appointment was ordered) in a Canadian multidisciplinary tertiary care diabetes clinic. The primary aim was to compare characteristics, diabetes processes of care, and outcomes from referral to within 1 year after leaving clinic or to the end of the follow-up period among those patients who defaulted, were discharged or were retained in the clinic.
Retrospective cohort study of 193 patients referred to the Foustanellas Endocrine and Diabetes Center (FEDC) for type 2 diabetes from January 1, 2005 to June 30, 2005. The FEDC is the primary academic referral centre for the Ottawa Region and provides multidisciplinary diabetes management. Defaulters (mean age 58.5 ± 12.5 year, 60% M) were compared to patients who were retained in the clinic (mean age 61.4 ± 10.47 years, 49% M) and those who were formally discharged (mean age 61.5 ± 13.2 years, 53.3% M). The chart audit population was then individually linked on an individual patient basis for laboratory testing, physician visits billed through OHIP, hospitalizations and emergency room visits using Ontario health card numbers to health administrative data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care at the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES).
Retained and defaulted patients had significantly longer duration of diabetes, more microvascular complications, were more likely to be on insulin and less likely to have a HbA1c < 7.0% than patients discharged from clinic. A significantly lower proportion of patients who defaulted from tertiary care received recommended monitoring for their diabetes (HbA1c measurements, lipid measurements, and periodic eye examinations), despite no difference in median number of visits to a primary care provider (PCP). Emergency room visits were numerically higher in the defaulters group.
Patients defaulting from a tertiary care diabetes hospital do not receive the recommended monitoring for their diabetes management despite attending PCP appointments. Efforts should be made to minimize defaulting in this group of individuals.
Limited access to specialist care remains a major barrier to health care in Canada, affecting patients and primary care providers alike, in terms of both long wait times and inequitable availability. We developed an electronic consultation system, based on a secure web-based tool, as an alternative to face-to-face consultations, and ran a pilot study to evaluate its effectiveness and acceptability to practitioners.
In a pilot program conducted over 15 months starting in January 2010, the e-consultation system was tested with primary care providers and specialists in a large health region in Eastern Ontario, Canada. We collected utilization data from the electronic system itself (including quantitative data from satisfaction surveys) and qualitative information from focus groups and interviews with providers.
Of 18 primary care providers in the pilot program, 13 participated in focus groups and 9 were interviewed; in addition, 10 of the 11 specialists in the program were interviewed. Results of our evaluation showed good uptake, high levels of satisfaction, improvement in the integration of referrals and consultations, and avoidance of unnecessary specialist visits. A total of 77 e-consultation requests were processed from 1 Jan. 2010 to 1 Apr. 2011. Less than 10% of the referrals required face-to-face follow-up. The most frequently noted benefits for patients (as perceived by providers) included improved access to specialist care and reduced wait times. Primary care providers valued the ability to assist with patient assessment and management by having access to a rapid response to clinical questions, clarifying the need for diagnostic tests or treatments, and confirming the need for a formal consultation. Specialists enjoyed the improved interaction with primary care providers, as well as having some control in the decision on which patients should be referred.
This low-cost referral system has potential for broader implementation, once payment models for physicians are adapted to cover e-consultation.
Primary care plays a key role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD). We examined primary care practice adherence to recommended care guidelines associated with the prevention and management of CVD for high risk patients.
We conducted a secondary analysis of cross-sectional baseline data collected from 84 primary care practices participating in a large quality improvement initiative in Eastern Ontario from 2008 to 2010. We collected medical chart data from 4,931 patients who either had, or were at high risk of developing CVD to study adherence rates to recommended guidelines for CVD care and to examine the proportion of patients at target for clinical markers such as blood pressure, lipid levels and hemoglobin A1c.
Adherence to preventive care recommendations was poor. Less than 10% of high risk patients received a waistline measurement, half of the smokers received cessation advice, and 7.7% were referred to a smoking cessation program. Gaps in care exist for diabetes and kidney disease as 54.9% of patients with diabetes received recommended hemoglobin-A1c screenings, and only 55.8% received an albumin excretion test. Adherence rates to recommended guidelines for coronary artery disease, hypertension, and dyslipidemia were high (>75%); however <50% of patients were at target for blood pressure or LDL-cholesterol levels (37.1% and 49.7% respectively), and only 59.3% of patients with diabetes were at target for hemoglobin-A1c.
There remain significant opportunities for primary care providers to engage high risk patients in prevention activities such as weight management and smoking cessation. Despite high adherence rates for hypertension, dyslipidemia, and coronary artery disease, a significant proportion of patients failed to meet treatment targets, highlighting the complexity of caring for people with multiple chronic conditions.
Cardiovascular disease; Primary care; Diabetes; Evidence-based care; Preventive care; Quality of care
Given the potential value of self-management support programs for people with chronic diseases, it is vital to understand how they influence participants’ health attitudes and behaviours. The Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), the most well-known and widely studied such program, is funded in many provinces and jurisdictions throughout Canada. However, there is little published evidence on its impact in the Canadian health-care system. We studied participants’ reactions and perceived impacts of attending the Stanford program in one Ontario health region so we could assess its value to the health region. The study asked: What are participants’ reactions and perceived impacts of attending the Stanford CDSMP?
This mixed methods exploratory study held four focus groups approximately one year after participants attended a Stanford program workshop. At the beginning of each session, participants filled out a survey on the type and frequency of community and health resources used for their self-management. During the sessions, a moderator guided the discussion, asking about such things as long-term impact of the program on their lives and barriers to self-management of their chronic conditions.
Participants perceived diverse effects of the workshop: from having a profound impact on one area to affecting all aspects of their lives. A change in physical activity patterns was the most prominent behaviour change, noted by over half the participants. Other recurrent effects included an improved sense of social connection and better coping skills. Barriers to self-management were experienced by almost all participants with several dominant themes emerging including problems with the health system and patient-physician interaction. Participants reported a wide variety of resources used in their self-management, and in some cases, an increase in use was noted for some resources.
Self-management support is, at its core, a complex and patient-centred concept, so a diversity of outcomes to match the diversity of participants should be expected. As these interventions move into different target populations and communities, it is essential that we continue to explore through multiple research methods, the effects, and their meaning to participants, ensuring the optimal investment of resources for the very individuals these interventions aim to serve.
Chronic disease; Self-management; Diabetes; Community health
Primary care providers play an important role in preventing and managing cardiovascular disease. This study compared the quality of preventive cardiovascular care delivery amongst different primary care models.
This is a secondary analysis of a larger randomized control trial, known as the Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC) through Outreach Facilitation. Using baseline data collected through IDOCC, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 82 primary care practices from three delivery models in Eastern Ontario, Canada: 43 fee-for-service, 27 blended-capitation and 12 community health centres with salary-based physicians. Medical chart audits from 4,808 patients with or at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease were used to examine each practice's adherence to ten evidence-based processes of care for diabetes, chronic kidney disease, dyslipidemia, hypertension, weight management, and smoking cessation care. Generalized estimating equation models adjusting for age, sex, rurality, number of cardiovascular-related comorbidities, and year of data collection were used to compare guideline adherence amongst the three models.
The percentage of patients with diabetes that received two hemoglobin A1c tests during the study year was significantly higher in community health centres (69%) than in fee-for-service (45%) practices (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 2.4 [95% CI 1.4-4.2], p = 0.001). Blended capitation practices had a significantly higher percentage of patients who had their waistlines monitored than in fee-for-service practices (19% vs. 5%, AOR = 3.7 [1.8-7.8], p = 0.0006), and who were recommended a smoking cessation drug when compared to community health centres (33% vs. 16%, AOR = 2.4 [1.3-4.6], p = 0.007). Overall, quality of diabetes care was higher in community health centres, while smoking cessation care and weight management was higher in the blended-capitation models. Fee-for-service practices had the greatest gaps in care, most noticeably in diabetes care and weight management.
This study adds to the evidence suggesting that primary care delivery model impacts quality of care. These findings support current Ontario reforms to move away from the traditional fee-for-service practice.
There is a need to find innovative approaches for translating best practices for chronic disease care into daily primary care practice routines. Primary care plays a crucial role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. There is, however, a substantive care gap, and many challenges exist in implementing evidence-based care. The Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC) project is a pragmatic trial designed to improve the delivery of evidence-based care for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease in primary care practices using practice outreach facilitation.
The IDOCC project is a stepped-wedge cluster randomized control trial in which Practice Outreach Facilitators work with primary care practices to improve cardiovascular disease prevention and management for patients at highest risk. Primary care practices in a large health region in Eastern Ontario, Canada, were eligible to participate. The intervention consists of regular monthly meetings with the Practice Outreach Facilitator over a one- to two-year period. Starting with audit and feedback, consensus building, and goal setting, the practices are supported in changing practice behavior by incorporating chronic care model elements. These elements include (a) evidence-based decision support for providers, (b) delivery system redesign for practices, (c) enhanced self-management support tools provided to practices to help them engage patients, and (d) increased community resource linkages for practices to enhance referral of patients. The primary outcome is a composite score measured at the level of the patient to represent each practice's adherence to evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular care. Qualitative analysis of the Practice Outreach Facilitators' written narratives of their ongoing practice interactions will be done. These textual analyses will add further insight into understanding critical factors impacting project implementation.
This pragmatic, stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial with both quantitative and process evaluations demonstrates innovative methods of implementing large-scale quality improvement and evidence-based approaches to care delivery. This is the first Canadian study to examine the impact of a large-scale multifaceted cardiovascular quality-improvement program in primary care. It is anticipated that through the evaluation of IDOCC, we will demonstrate an effective, practical, and sustainable means of improving the cardiovascular health of patients across Canada.
A well documented gap remains between evidence and practice for clinical practice guidelines in cardiovascular disease (CVD) care.
Objective of program
As part of the Champlain CVD Prevention Strategy, practitioners in the Champlain District of Ontario launched a large quality-improvement initiative that focused on increasing the uptake in primary care practice settings of clinical guidelines for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and CVD risk factors.
The Champlain Primary Care CVD Prevention and Management Guideline is a desktop resource for primary care clinicians working in the Champlain District. The guideline was developed by more than 45 local experts to summarize the latest evidence-based strategies for CVD prevention and management, as well as to increase awareness of local community-based programs and services.
Evidence suggests that tailored strategies are important when implementing specific practice guidelines. This article describes the process of creating an integrated clinical guideline for improvement in the delivery of cardiovascular care.
While some research has been conducted examining recruitment methods to engage physicians and practices in primary care research, further research is needed on recruitment methodology as it remains a recurrent challenge and plays a crucial role in primary care research. This paper reviews recruitment strategies, common challenges, and innovative practices from five recent primary care health services research studies in Ontario, Canada.
We used mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to gather data from investigators and/or project staff from five research teams. Team members were interviewed and asked to fill out a brief survey on recruitment methods, results, and challenges encountered during a recent or ongoing project involving primary care practices or physicians. Data analysis included qualitative analysis of interview notes and descriptive statistics generated for each study.
Recruitment rates varied markedly across the projects despite similar initial strategies. Common challenges and creative solutions were reported by many of the research teams, including building a sampling frame, developing front-office rapport, adapting recruitment strategies, promoting buy-in and interest in the research question, and training a staff recruiter.
Investigators must continue to find effective ways of reaching and involving diverse and representative samples of primary care providers and practices by building personal connections with, and buy-in from, potential participants. Flexible recruitment strategies and an understanding of the needs and interests of potential participants may also facilitate recruitment.
T o examine the methodology used to evaluate whether focusing the work of nurse practitioners and a pharmacist on frail and at-risk patients would improve the quality of care for such patients.
Evaluation of methodology of a randomized controlled trial including analysis of quantitative and qualitative data over time and analysis of cost-effectiveness.
A single practice in a rural area near Ottawa, Ont.
A total of 241 frail patients, aged 50 years and older, at risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes.
At-risk patients were randomly assigned to receive Anticipatory and Preventive Team Care (from their family physicians, 1 of 3 nurse practitioners, and a pharmacist) or usual care.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
The principal outcome for the study was the quality of care for chronic disease management. Secondary outcomes included other quality of care measures and evaluation of the program process and its cost-effectiveness. This article examines the effectiveness of the methodology used. Quantitative data from surveys, administrative databases, and medical records were supplemented with qualitative information from interviews, focus groups, work logs, and study notes.
Three factors limit our ability to fully demonstrate the potential effects of this team structure. For reasons outside our control, the intervention duration was shorter than intended; the practice’s physical layout did not facilitate interactions between the care providers; and contamination of the intervention effect into the control arm cannot be excluded. The study used a randomized design, relied on a multifaceted approach to evaluating its effects, and used several sources of data.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER
T o examine whether quality of care (QOC) improves when nurse practitioners and pharmacists work with family physicians in community practice and focus their work on patients who are 50 years of age and older and considered to be at risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes.
Randomized controlled trial.
A family health network with 8 family physicians, 5 nurses, and 11 administrative personnel serving 10 000 patients in a rural area near Ottawa, Ont.
Patients 50 years of age and older at risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes (N = 241).
At-risk patients were randomly assigned to receive usual care from their family physicians or Anticipatory and Preventive Team Care (APTCare) from a collaborative team composed of their physicians, 1 of 3 nurse practitioners, and a pharmacist.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Quality of care for chronic disease management (CDM) for diabetes, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Controlling for baseline demographic characteristics, the APTCare approach improved CDM QOC by 9.2% (P < .001) compared with traditional care. The APTCare intervention also improved preventive care by 16.5% (P < .001). We did not observe significant differences in other secondary outcome measures (intermediate clinical outcomes, quality of life [Short-Form 36 and health-related quality of life scales], functional status [instrumental activities of daily living scale] and service usage).
Additional resources in the form of collaborative multidisciplinary care teams with intensive interventions in primary care can improve QOC for CDM in a population of older at-risk patients. The appropriateness of this intervention will depend on its cost-effectiveness.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER NCT00238836 (CONSORT)
To explore patients’ motivations for seeking care in the emergency department (ED) after hours and their willingness to consult their family physicians instead, if their family physicians had been available.
Survey using an 8-item questionnaire.
Two tertiary care hospital EDs in Ottawa, Ont, from June 4 to 22, 2007, between 5 pm and 9 pm.
A total of 151 ambulatory patients. Patients who arrived by ambulance or who bypassed those waiting were excluded.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Patients’ self-reported motivation for seeking after-hours care in the ED, the perceived urgency of their medical complaints, and their willingness to have sought care from their family physicians instead, if they had been available.
There were 218 eligible patients during the study period. Among the 151 respondents (69.3% response rate), 141 qualified for the study. Of the qualified respondents, 57.4% would have chosen to consult their family physicians instead if they had been available. The most common reason for choosing the ED was the perceived need for services unavailable at family medicine clinics, such as specialist consultation or diagnostic imaging. There were no differences in the perceived urgency of patients’ medical conditions or the amount of time they were willing to wait before physician assessment between those who would have been willing to seek care from their family physicians and those who would not have been willing.
After-hour family medicine clinics provide a desirable primary care service that most patients would choose over the ED if more were available.
PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED
Family medicine departments and primary health care research centres across the country are growing in size and complexity and therefore require increasingly sophisticated management strategies. Conducting effective and relevant research relies on a stable and efficient organization.
OBJECTIVE OF THE PROGRAM
To focus on the needs of individuals, teams, and the organization in order to ensure the success of research projects.
In order to ensure the success of research projects, the C.T. Lamont Primary Health Care Research Centre (CTLC) in Ottawa, Ont, used the following strategies: ensuring organizational support (ie, protected time for research and sustained funding for some investigators); arranging financial and infrastructure support; building skills and confidence (eg, education sessions); organizing linkages and collaborations (eg, forums among staff members); creating appropriate dissemination (eg, newsletter, website); and providing continuity and sustainability.
In order to ensure progress in primary health care research, the CTLC created solutions that focused on the individual, team, and organizational levels. With its management strategies, the CTLC was successful in maintaining a high-functioning team and a well-organized research organization.
To quantify the frequency and types of in-office emergencies seen by FPs.
A retrospective descriptive analysis of the frequency and types of in-office emergencies seen by FPs was done using the City of Ottawa Emergency Medical Services database.
Community medical offices in the Ottawa, Ont, region during a 3-year period (2004 to 2006).
All patients for whom an ambulance was called to a medical office or clinic during the study period.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Number of emergency calls from FPs’ offices, primary complaints, seasonal variation, distance to the nearest emergency facility, and patients’ demographic characteristics.
A total of 3033 code 04 (life-threatening) emergency calls were received from FPs’ offices during the study period. Demographic analysis of the calls showed that 91.3% of calls were regarding adult patients with an average age of 51.5 years. There was an overall statistically significant difference in the sex of the patients presenting (P < .001), but it was attributable to calls about genitourinary emergencies, which were almost all for women. The most common type of emergency reported was cardiovascular complaints. Of the 992 cardiovascular emergencies, 74.3% were complaints of ischemic chest pain.
There is a great burden on the health care system from emergency calls, with continued unpreparedness from FPs. Clearly, FPs must take seriously the risk of being unprepared for in-office emergencies. Dissemination strategies must be developed so that the guidelines that have been developed can be effectively implemented in FP offices across the country.
The growing prevalence of diabetes and heightened awareness of the benefits of early and intensive disease management have increased service demands and expectations not only of primary care physicians but also of diabetes specialists. While research has addressed issues related to referral into specialist care, much less has been published about the transition from diabetes specialists back to primary care. Understanding the concerns of family physicians related to discharge of diabetes care from specialist centers can support the development of strategies that facilitate this transition and result in broader access to limited specialist services. This study was undertaken to explore primary care physician (PCP) perspectives and concerns related to reassuming responsibility for diabetes care after referral to a specialized diabetes center.
Qualitative data were collected through three focus groups. Sessions were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data were coded and sorted with themes identified using a constant comparison method. The study was undertaken through the regional academic referral center for adult diabetes care in Ottawa, Canada. Participants included 22 primary care physicians representing a variety of referral frequencies, practice types and settings.
Participants described facilitators and barriers to successful transition of diabetes care at the provider, patient and systems level. Major facilitators included clear communication of a detailed, structured plan of care, ongoing access to specialist services for advice or re-referral, continuing education and mentoring for PCPs. Identified provider barriers were gaps in PCP knowledge and confidence related to diabetes treatment, excessive workload and competing time demands. Systems deterrents included reimbursement policies for health professionals and inadequate funding for diabetes medications and supplies. At the PCP-patient interface, insufficient patient confidence or trust in PCP's ability to manage diabetes, poor motivation and "non-compliance" emerged as potential patient barriers to transition. Incongruence between PCP attitudes and expectations related to diabetes self-management and those of patients who had attended a multidisciplinary specialist center was also observed.
This study underlines the breadth of PCP concerns related to transition of diabetes care and the importance of this topic to them. While tools that promote timely information flow and care planning are cornerstones to successful transition, and may be sufficient for some practitioners, appropriately resourced decision support and education strategies should also be available to enhance PCP capacity and readiness to resume diabetes care after referral to a specialist center. Characteristics of the patient-care provider relationship that impact discharge were identified and are worthy of further research.