To test the hypothesis that physicians who work in different hospitals adapt their length of stay decisions to what is usual in the hospital under consideration.
Secondary data were used, originating from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS). SPARCS is a major management tool for assisting hospitals, agencies, and health care organizations with decision making in relation to financial planning and monitoring of inpatient and ambulatory surgery services and costs in New York state.
Data on length of stay for surgical interventions and medical conditions (a total of seven diagnosis-related groups [DRGs]) were studied, to find out whether there is more variation between than within hospitals. Data (1999, 2000, and 2001) from all hospitals in New York state were used. The study examined physicians practicing in one hospital and physicians practicing in more than one hospital, to determine whether average length of stay differs according to the hospital of practice. Multilevel models were used to determine variation between and within hospitals. A t-test was used to test whether length of stay for patients of each multihospital physician differed from the average length of stay in each of the two hospitals.
There is significantly (p<.05) more variation between than within hospitals in most of the study populations. Physicians working in two hospitals had patient lengths of stay comparable with the usual practice in the hospital where the procedure was performed. The proportion of physicians working in one hospital did not have a consistent effect for all DRGs on the variation within hospitals.
Physicians adapt to their colleagues or to the managerial demands of the particular hospital in which they work. The hospital and broader work environment should be taken into account when developing effective interventions to reduce variation in medical practice.
Length of stay; variation; hospitals; multihospital physicians
Studies have demonstrated a higher risk of adverse outcomes among infants born or admitted during off-hours, as compared to office hours, leading to questions about quality of care provide during off-hours (weekend, evening or night). We aim to determine the relationship between off-hours delivery and adverse perinatal outcomes for subgroups of hospital births.
This retrospective cohort study was based on data from the Netherlands Perinatal Registry, a countrywide registry that covers 99% of all hospital births in the Netherlands. Data of 449,714 infants, born at 28 completed weeks or later, in the period 2003 through 2007 were used. Infants with a high a priori risk of morbidity or mortality were excluded. Outcome measures were intrapartum and early neonatal mortality, a low Apgar score (5 minute score of 0–6), and a composite adverse perinatal outcome measure (mortality, low Apgar score, severe birth trauma, admission to a neonatal intensive care unit).
Evening and night-time deliveries that involved induction or augmentation of labour, or an emergency caesarean section, were associated with an increased risk of an adverse perinatal outcome when compared to similar daytime deliveries. Weekend deliveries were not associated with an increased risk when compared to weekday deliveries. It was estimated that each year, between 126 and 141 cases with an adverse perinatal outcomes could be attributed to this evening and night effect. Of these, 21 (15-16%) are intrapartum or early neonatal death. Among the 3100 infants in the study population who experience an adverse outcome each year, death accounted for only 5% (165) of these outcomes.
This study shows that for infants whose mothers require obstetric interventions during labour and delivery, birth in the evening or at night, are at an increased risk of an adverse perinatal outcomes.
Time of birth; Night; Weekend; Delivery; Perinatal mortality; Perinatal morbidity; Hospital care; Quality of health care
To study the overall effect of the Active Prevention in High-Risk Individuals of Diabetes Type 2 in and Around Eindhoven (APHRODITE) lifestyle intervention on type 2 diabetes risk reduction in Dutch primary care after 0.5 and 1.5 years and to evaluate the variability between general practices.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes (Finnish Diabetes Risk Score ≥13) were randomly assigned into an intervention group (n = 479) or a usual-care group (n = 446). Comparisons were made between study groups and between general practices regarding changes in clinical and lifestyle measures over 1.5 years. Participant, general practitioner, and nurse practitioner characteristics were compared between individuals who lost weight or maintained a stable weight and individuals who gained weight.
Both groups showed modest changes in glucose values, weight measures, physical activity, energy intake, and fiber intake. Differences between groups were significant only for total physical activity, saturated fat intake, and fiber intake. Differences between general practices were significant for BMI and 2-h glucose but not for energy intake and physical activity. In the intervention group, the nurse practitioners’ mean years of work experience was significantly longer in individuals who were successful at losing weight or maintaining a stable weight compared with unsuccessful individuals. Furthermore, successful individuals more often had a partner.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes could be significantly reduced by lifestyle counseling in Dutch primary care. The small differences in changes over time between the two study groups suggest that additional intervention effects are modest. In particular, the level of experience of the nurse practitioner and the availability of partner support seem to facilitate intervention success.
As in clinical practice resources may be limited compared to experimental settings, translation of evidence-based lifestyle interventions into daily life settings is challenging. In this study we therefore evaluated the implementation of the APHRODITE lifestyle intervention for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in Dutch primary care. Based on this evaluation we discuss opportunities for refining intervention delivery.
A 2.5-year intervention was performed in 14 general practices in the Netherlands among individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes (FINDRISC-score ≥ 13) (n = 479) and was compared to usual care (n = 446). Intervention consisted of individual lifestyle counselling by nurse practitioners (n = 24) and GPs (n = 48) and group-consultations. Drop-out and attendance were registered during the programme. After the intervention, satisfaction with the programme and perceived implementation barriers were assessed with questionnaires.
Drop-out was modest (intervention: 14.6 %; usual care: 13.2 %) and attendance at individual consultations was high (intervention: 80-97 %; usual care: 86-94 %). Providers were confident about diabetes prevention by lifestyle intervention in primary care. Participants were more satisfied with counselling from nurse practitioners than from GPs. A major part of the GPs reported low self-efficacy regarding dietary guidance. Lack of counselling time (60 %), participant motivation (12 %), and financial reimbursement (11 %) were regarded by providers as important barriers for intervention implementation.
High participant compliance and a positive attitude of providers make primary care a suitable setting for diabetes prevention by lifestyle counselling. Results support a role for the nurse practitioner as the key player in guiding lifestyle modification. Further research is needed on strategies that could increase cost-effectiveness, such as more stringent criteria for participant inclusion, group-counselling, more tailor-made counselling and integration of screening and / or interventions for different disorders.
Type 2 diabetes; Primary care; Lifestyle intervention; Implementation
Every two years, long-term care organizations for the elderly are obliged to evaluate and publish the experiences of residents, representatives of psychogeriatric patients, and/or assisted-living clients with regard to quality of care. Our hypotheses are that publication of this quality information leads to improved performance, and that organizations with substandard performance will improve more than those whose performance is relatively good.
The analyses included organizational units that measured experiences twice between 2007 (t0) and 2009 (t1). Experiences with quality of care were measured with Consumer Quality Index (CQI) questionnaires. Besides descriptive analyses (i.e. mean, 5th and 95th percentile, and 90% central range) of the 19 CQI indicators and change scores of these indicators were calculated. Differences across five performance groups (ranging from 'worst' to 'best') were tested using an ANOVA test and effect sizes were measured with omega squared (ω2).
At t0 experiences of residents, representatives, and assisted-living clients were positive on all indicators. Nevertheless, most CQI indicators had improved scores (up to 0.37 change score) at t1. Only three indicators showed a minor decline (up to -0.08 change score). Change scores varied between indicators and questionnaires, e.g. they were more profound for the face-to-face interview questionnaire for residents in nursing homes than for the other two mail questionnaires (0.15 vs. 0.05 and 0.04, respectively), possibly due to more variation between nursing homes on the first measurement, perhaps indicating more potential for improvement. A negative relationship was found between prior performance and change, particularly with respect to the experiences of residents (ω2 = 0.16) and assisted-living clients (ω2 = 0.15). However, the relation between prior performance and improvement could also be demonstrated with respect to the experiences reported by representatives of psychogeriatric patients and by assisted-living clients. For representatives of psychogeriatric patients, the performance groups 1 and 2 ([much] below average) improved significantly more than the other three groups (ω2 = 0.05).
Both hypotheses were confirmed: almost all indicator scores improved over time and long-term care organizations for the elderly with substandard performance improved more than those with a performance which was already relatively good.
Oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) involves many health care disciplines. Even though collaboration between care professionals is assumed to improve the quality of OAT, very little research has been done into the practice of OAT management to arrange and manage the collaboration. This study aims to identify the problems in collaboration experienced by the care professionals involved, the solutions they proposed to improve collaboration, and the barriers they encountered to the implementation of these solutions.
In the Netherlands, intensive follow-up of OAT is provided by specialized anticoagulant clinics (ACs). Sixty-eight semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 103 professionals working at an AC. These semi-structured interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed inductively. Wagner's chronic care model (CCM) and Cabana's framework for improvement were used to categorize the results.
AC professionals experienced three main bottlenecks in collaboration: lack of knowledge (mostly of other professionals), lack of consensus on OAT, and limited information exchange between professionals. They mentioned several solutions to improve collaboration, especially solutions of CCM's decision support component (i.e. education, regular meetings, and agreements and protocols). Education is considered a prerequisite for the successful implementation of other proposed solutions such as developing a multidisciplinary protocol and changing the allocation of tasks. The potential of the health care organization to improve collaboration seemed to be underestimated by professionals. They experienced several barriers to the successful implementation of the proposed solutions. Most important barriers were the lack motivation of non-AC professionals and lack of time to establish collaboration.
This study revealed that the collaboration in OAT is limited by a lack of knowledge, a lack of consensus, and a limited information exchange. Education was identified as the best way to improve collaboration and considered a prerequisite for a successful implementation of other proposed solutions. Hence, the implementation sequence is of importance in order to improve the collaboration successfully. First step is to establish alignment regarding collaboration with all involved professionals to encounter the lack of motivation of non-AC professionals and lack of time.
Guidelines traditionally focus on the diagnosis and treatment of single diseases. As almost half of the patients with a chronic disease have more than one disease, the applicability of guidelines may be limited. The aim of this study was to assess the extent that guidelines address comorbidity and to assess the supporting evidence of recommendations related to comorbidity.
We conducted a systematic analysis of evidence-based guidelines focusing on four highly prevalent chronic conditions with a high impact on quality of life: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depressive disorder, diabetes mellitus type 2, and osteoarthritis. Data were abstracted from each guideline on the extent that comorbidity was addressed (general comments, specific recommendations), the type of comorbidity discussed (concordant, discordant), and the supporting evidence of the comorbidity-related recommendations (level of evidence, translation of evidence). Of the 20 guidelines, 17 (85%) addressed the issue of comorbidity and 14 (70%) provided specific recommendations on comorbidity. In general, the guidelines included few recommendations on patients with comorbidity (mean 3 recommendations per guideline, range 0 to 26). Of the 59 comorbidity-related recommendations provided, 46 (78%) addressed concordant comorbidities, 8 (14%) discordant comorbidities, and for 5 (8%) the type of comorbidity was not specified. The strength of the supporting evidence was moderate for 25% (15/59) and low for 37% (22/59) of the recommendations. In addition, for 73% (43/59) of the recommendations the evidence was not adequately translated into the guidelines.
Our study showed that the applicability of current evidence-based guidelines to patients with comorbid conditions is limited. Most guidelines do not provide explicit guidance on treatment of patients with comorbidity, particularly for discordant combinations. Guidelines should be more explicit about the applicability of their recommendations to patients with comorbidity. Future clinical trials should also include patients with the most prevalent combinations of chronic conditions.
Despite considerable efforts to promote and support guideline use, adherence is often suboptimal. Barriers to adherence vary not only across guidelines but also across recommendations within guidelines. The aim of this study was to assess the perceived barriers to guideline adherence among GPs by focusing on key recommendations within guidelines.
We conducted a cross-sectional electronic survey among 703 GPs in the Netherlands. Sixteen key recommendations were derived from four national guidelines. Six statements were included to address the attitudes towards guidelines in general. In addition, GPs were asked to rate their perceived adherence (one statement) and the perceived barriers (fourteen statements) for each of the key recommendations, based on an existing framework.
264 GPs (38%) completed the questionnaire. Although 35% of the GPs reported difficulties in changing routines and habits to follow guidelines, 89% believed that following guidelines leads to improved patient care. Perceived adherence varied between 52 and 95% across recommendations (mean: 77%). The most perceived barriers were related to external factors, in particular patient ability and behaviour (mean: 30%) and patient preferences (mean: 23%). Lack of applicability of recommendations in general (mean: 22%) and more specifically to individual patients (mean: 25%) were also frequently perceived as barriers. The scores on perceived barriers differed largely between recommendations [minimum range 14%; maximum range 67%].
Dutch GPs have a positive attitude towards the NHG guidelines, report high adherence rates and low levels of perceived barriers. However, the perceived adherence and perceived barriers varied largely across recommendations. The most perceived barriers across recommendations are patient related, suggesting that current guidelines do not always adequately incorporate patient preferences, needs and abilities. It may be useful to provide tools such as decision aids, supporting the flexible use of guidelines to individual patients in practice.
Legislation demands the establishment of client councils in Dutch nursing homes and residential care facilities. The members of those councils are residents or their representatives. Client councils have the right to participate in the strategic management of long-term care facilities. More specifically, they need to be consulted regarding organisational issues and a right to consent on issues regarding daily living of residents, including CQ-index research. CQ-index research concerns a method that measures, analyses and report clients' experiences about the quality of care. Research questions were: 'Do client councils exercise their rights to be consulted and to give their consent?' and 'What is the role of client councils in the process of measuring clients' experiences with the CQ-index and what is their opinion about the CQ-index?'
Postal questionnaires were sent to members of 1,540 client councils of Dutch nursing homes and residential care facilities. The questionnaire focussed on background information and client councils' involvement in decision-making and strategic management.
The response rate was 34% (n = 524). Most councils consisted of seven members (range: 5 to 12 members). One out of four members participating in the client councils were clients themselves. Although councils have a legal right to be consulted for organisational issues like finance, vision, annual report, and accommodation, less than half the councils (31-46%) reported that they exercised this right. The legal right to consent was perceived by 18 to 36% of the councils regarding client care issues like food and drink, complaints registration, respectful treatment, and activities. For CQ-index research, only 18% of the client councils perceived a right to consent. Their rights to choose an approved contractor -who performs CQ-index research- and indicating improvement priorities, were hardly used.
Client councils play a rather passive role in determining the policy on quality of long-term care. Therefore, specific attention and actions are needed to create a more proactive attitude in councils towards exercising their rights, which are already supported by legislation.
Consumer participation; empowerment; patients' rights; long-term care
This study describes the continuation of a program to constrain health care costs by limiting inpatient hospital programs among the hospitals of Syracuse, New York. Through a community demonstration project, it identified components of individual hospital programs for reduction of complications and their impact on the frequency and rates of these outcomes.
This study involved the implementation of interventions by three hospitals using the Potentially Preventable Complications System developed by 3M™ Health Information Systems. The program is noteworthy because it included competing hospitals in the same community working together to reduce adverse patient outcomes and related costs.
The study data identified statistically significant reductions in the frequency of high and low volume complications during the three year period at two of the hospitals. At both of these hospitals, aggregate complication rates also declined. At these hospitals, the differences between actual complication rates and severity adjusted complication rates were also reduced.
At the third hospital, specific and aggregate complication rates remained the same or increased slightly. Differences between these rates and those of severity adjusted comparison population also remained the same or increased.
Results of the study suggested that, in one community health care system, the progress of reducing complications involved different experiences. At two hospitals with relatively higher rates at the beginning of the study, management by administrative and clinical staff outside quality assurance produced significant reductions in complication rates, while at a hospital with lower rates, management by quality assurance staff had little effect on reducing the rate of PPCs.
The oral anticoagulant therapy - provided to prevent thrombosis - is known to be associated with substantial avoidable hospitalization. Improving the quality of the oral anticoagulant therapy could avoid drug related hospitalizations. Therefore, this study compared the patient outcomes between Dutch anticoagulant clinic (AC) regions taking the variation in chronic care management into account in order to explore whether chronic care management elements could improve the quality of oral anticoagulant therapy.
Two data sources were combined. The first source was a questionnaire that was send to all ACs in the Netherlands in 2008 (response = 100%) to identify the application of chronic care management elements in the AC regions. The Chronic Care Model of Wagner was used to make the concept of chronic care management operational. The second source was the report of the Dutch National Network of ACs which contains patient outcomes of the ACs.
Patient outcomes achieved by the ACs were good, yet differences existed; for instance the percentage of patients in the appropriate therapeutic ranges varied from 67 to 87% between AC regions. Moreover, differences existed in the use of chronic care management elements of the chronic care model, for example 12% of the ACs had multidisciplinary meetings and 58% of the ACs had formal agreements with at least one hospital within their region. Patient outcomes were significantly associated with patient orientation and the number of specialized nurses versus doctors (p-values < 0.05). Furthermore, the overall extent to which chronic care management elements were applied was positively associated with patient outcomes (p-values < 0.05).
Substantial differences in the patient outcomes as well as chronic care management of oral anticoagulant therapy existed. Since our results showed a positive association between overall application of chronic care management and patient outcomes, additional research is needed to fully understand the working mechanism of chronic care management.
Hospital inpatient complications are one of a number of adverse health care outcomes. Reducing complications has been identified as an approach to improving care and saving resources as part of the health care reform efforts in the United States.
An objective of this study was to describe the Potentially Preventable Complications software developed as a tool for evaluating hospital inpatient outcomes. Additional objectives included demonstration of the use of this software to evaluate the connection between health care outcomes and expenses in United States administrative data at the state and local levels and the use of the software to plan and implement interventions to reduce hospital complications in one U.S. metropolitan area.
The study described the Potentially Preventable Complications software as a tool for evaluating these inpatient hospital outcomes. Through administrative hospital charge data from California and Maryland and through cost data from three hospitals in Syracuse, New York, expenses for patients with and without complications were compared. These comparisons were based on patients in the same All Patients Refined Diagnosis Related Groups and severity of illness categories. This analysis included tests of statistical significance.
In addition, the study included a planning process for use of the Potentially Preventable Complications software in three Syracuse hospitals to plan and implement reductions in hospital inpatient complications. The use of the PPC software in cost comparisons and reduction of complications included tests of statistical significance.
The study demonstrated that Potentially Preventable Complications were associated with significantly increased cost in administrative data from the United States in California and Maryland and in actual cost data from the hospitals of Syracuse, New York. The implementation of interventions in the Syracuse hospitals was associated with the reduction of complications for urinary tract infection, decubitus ulcer, and pulmonary embolism.
The study demonstrated that the Potentially Preventable Complications software could be used to evaluate hospital outcomes and related costs at the aggregate and diagnosis specific levels. It also indicated that the system could be used to plan and implement interventions to improve outcomes on an individual or multihospital basis.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) are among the most common health problems seen in general practice. Evidence-based guidelines on UTI are available, but adherence to these guidelines varies widely among practitioners for reasons not well understood. The aim of this study was to identify the barriers to the implementation of a guideline on UTI perceived by Dutch general practitioners (GPs) and to explore interventions to overcome these barriers.
A focus group study, including 13 GPs working in general practices in the Netherlands, was conducted. Key recommendations on diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated UTI were selected from the guideline. Barriers to guideline adherence and possible interventions to address these barriers were discussed. The focus group session was audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Barriers were classified according to an existing framework.
Lack of agreement with the recommendations, unavailable and inconvenient materials (i.e. dipslides), and organisational constraints were perceived as barriers for the diagnostic recommendations. Barriers to implementing the treatment recommendations were lack of applicability and organisational constraints related to the availability of drugs in pharmacies. Suggested interventions were to provide small group education to GPs and practice staff members, to improve organisation and coordination of care in out of hour services, to improve the availability of preferred dosages of drugs, and to pilot-test guidelines regionally.
Despite sufficient knowledge of the recommendations on UTI, attitudinal and external barriers made it difficult to follow them in practice. The care concerning UTI could be optimized if these barriers are adequately addressed in implementation strategies. The feasibility and success of these strategies could be improved by involving the target group of the guideline in selecting useful interventions to address the barriers to implementation.
Physicians' heavy workload is often thought to jeopardise the quality of care and to be a barrier to improving quality. The relationship between these has, however, rarely been investigated. In this study quality of care is defined as care 'in accordance with professional guidelines'. In this study we investigated whether GPs with a higher workload adhere less to guidelines than those with a lower workload and whether guideline recommendations that require a greater time investment are less adhered to than those that can save time.
Data were used from the Second Dutch National survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2). This nationwide study was carried out between April 2000 and January 2002.
A multilevel logistic-regression analysis was conducted of 170,677 decisions made by GPs, referring to 41 Guideline Adherence Indicators (GAIs), which were derived from 32 different guidelines. Data were used from 130 GPs, working in 83 practices with 98,577 patients. GP-characteristics as well as guideline characteristics were used as independent variables. Measures include workload (number of contacts), hours spent on continuing medical education, satisfaction with available time, practice characteristics and patient characteristics. Outcome measure is an indicator score, which is 1 when a decision is in accordance with professional guidelines or 0 when the decision deviates from guidelines.
On average, 66% of the decisions GPs made were in accordance with guidelines. No relationship was found between the objective workload of GPs and their adherence to guidelines. Subjective workload (measured on a five point scale) was negatively related to guideline adherence (OR = 0.95). After controlling for all other variables, the variation between GPs in adherence to guideline recommendations showed a range of less than 10%.
84% of the variation in guideline adherence was located at the GAI-level. Which means that the differences in adherence levels between guidelines are much larger than differences between GPs. Guideline recommendations that require an extra time investment during the same consultation are significantly less adhered to: (OR = 0.46), while those that can save time have much higher adherence levels: OR = 1.55). Recommendations that reduce the likelihood of a follow-up consultation for the same problem are also more often adhered to compared to those that have no influence on this (OR = 3.13).
No significant relationship was found between the objective workload of GPs and adherence to guidelines. However, guideline recommendations that require an extra time investment are significantly less well adhered to while those that can save time are significantly more often adhered to.
Despite wide distribution and promotion of clinical practice guidelines, adherence among Dutch general practitioners (GPs) is not optimal. To improve adherence to guidelines, an analysis of barriers to implementation is advocated. Because different recommendations within a guideline can have different barriers, in this study we focus on key recommendations rather than guidelines as a whole, and explore the barriers to implementation perceived by Dutch GPs.
A qualitative study using six focus groups was conducted, in which 30 GPs participated, with an average of seven per session. Fifty-six key recommendations were derived from twelve national guidelines. In each focus group, barriers to the implementation of the key recommendations of two clinical practice guidelines were discussed. Focus group discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data was analysed by using an existing framework of barriers.
The barriers varied largely within guidelines, with each key recommendation having a unique pattern of barriers. The most perceived barriers were lack of agreement with the recommendations due to lack of applicability or lack of evidence (68% of key recommendations), environmental factors such as organisational constraints (52%), lack of knowledge regarding the guideline recommendations (46%), and guideline factors such as unclear or ambiguous guideline recommendations (43%).
Our study findings suggest a broad range of barriers. As the barriers largely differ within guidelines, tailored and barrier-driven implementation strategies focusing on key recommendations are needed to improve adherence in practice. In addition, guidelines should be more transparent concerning the underlying evidence and applicability, and further efforts are needed to address complex issues such as comorbidity in guidelines. Finally, it might be useful to include focus groups in continuing medical education as an innovative medium for guideline education and implementation.
Doctors' professional behaviour is influenced by the way they are paid. When GPs are paid per item, i.e., on a fee-for-service basis (FFS), there is a clear relationship between workload and income: more work means more money. In the case of capitation based payment, workload is not directly linked to income since the fees per patient are fixed. In this study list size was considered as an indicator for workload and we investigated how list size and remuneration affect GP decisions about how they provide consultations. The main objectives of this study were to investigate a) how list size is related to consultation length, waiting time to get an appointment, and the likelihood that GPs conduct home visits and b) to what extent the relationships between list size and these three variables are affected by remuneration.
List size was used because this is an important determinant of objective workload. List size was corrected for number of older patients and patients who lived in deprived areas. We focussed on three dependent variables that we expected to be related to remuneration and list size: consultation length; waiting time to get an appointment; and home visits. Data were derived from the second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2), carried out between 2000 and 2002. The data were collected using electronic medical records, videotaped consultations and postal surveys. Multilevel regression analyses were performed to assess the hypothesized relationships.
Our results indicate that list size is negatively related to consultation length, especially among GPs with relatively large lists. A correlation between list size and waiting time to get an appointment, and a correlation between list size and the likelihood of a home visit were only found for GPs with small practices. These correlations are modified by the proportion of patients for whom GPs receive capitation fees. Waiting times to get an appointment tend to become shorter with increasing patient lists when there is a larger capitation percentage. The likelihood that GPs will conduct home visit rises with increasing patient lists when the capitation percentage is small.
Remuneration appears to affect GPs' decisions about how they provide consultations, especially among GPs with relatively small patient lists. This role is, however, small compared to other factors such as patient characteristics.
Translating scientific evidence into daily practice is problematic. All kinds of intervention strategies, using educational and/or directive strategies, aimed at modifying behavior, have evolved, but have been found only partially successful. In this article the focus is on (computerized) decision support systems (DSSs). DSSs intervene in physicians' daily routine, as opposed to interventions that aim at influencing knowledge in order to change behavior. We examined whether general practitioners (GPs) are prescribing in accordance with the advice given by the DSS and whether there is less variation in prescription when the DSS is used.
Data were used from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP2), collected in 2001. A total of 82 diagnoses, 749811 contacts, 133 physicians, and 85 practices was included in the analyses. GPs using the DSS daily were compared to GPs who do not use the DSS. Multilevel analyses were used to analyse the data. Two outcome measures were chosen: whether prescription was in accordance with the advice of the DSS or not, and a measure of concentration, the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI).
GPs who use the DSS daily prescribe more according to the advice given in the DSS than GPs who do not use the DSS. Contradictory to our expectation there was no significant difference between the HHIs for both groups: variation in prescription was comparable.
We studied the use of a DSS for drug prescribing in general practice in the Netherlands. The DSS is based on guidelines developed by the Dutch College of General Practitioners and implemented in the Electronic Medical Systems of the GPs. GPs using the DSS more often prescribe in accordance with the advice given in the DSS compared to GPs not using the DSS. This finding, however, did not mean that variation is lower; variation is the same for GPs using and for GPs not using a DSS. Implications of the study are that DSSs can be used to implement guidelines, but that it should not be expected that variation is limited.
To assess the development of and variation in lengths of stay in Dutch hospitals and to determine the potential reduction in hospital days if all Dutch hospitals would have an average length of stay equal to that of benchmark hospitals.
The potential reduction was calculated using data obtained from 69 hospitals that participated in the National Medical Registration (LMR). For each hospital, the average length of stay was adjusted for differences in type of admission (clinical or day-care admission) and case mix (age, diagnosis and procedure). We calculated the number of hospital days that theoretically could be saved by (i) counting unnecessary clinical admissions as day cases whenever possible, and (ii) treating all remaining clinical patients with a length of stay equal to the benchmark (15th percentile length of stay hospital).
The average (mean) length of stay in Dutch hospitals decreased from 14 days in 1980 to 7 days in 2006. In 2006 more than 80% of all hospitals reached an average length of stay shorter than the 15th percentile hospital in the year 2000. In 2006 the mean length of stay ranged from 5.1 to 8.7 days. If the average length of stay of the 15th percentile hospital in 2006 is identified as the standard that other hospitals can achieve, a 14% reduction of hospital days can be attained. This percentage varied substantially across medical specialties. Extrapolating the potential reduction of hospital days of the 69 hospitals to all 98 Dutch hospitals yielded a total savings of 1.8 million hospital days (2006). The average length of stay in Dutch hospitals if all hospitals were able to treat their patients as the 15th percentile hospital would be 6 days and the number of day cases would increase by 13%.
Hospitals in the Netherlands vary substantially in case mix adjusted length of stay. Benchmarking – using the method presented – shows the potential for efficiency improvement which can be realized by decreasing inputs (e.g. available beds for inpatient care). Future research should focus on the effect of length of stay reduction programs on outputs such as quality of care.
Patterns in time, place and cause of death can have an important impact on calculated hospital mortality rates. Objective is to quantify these patterns following myocardial infarction and stroke admissions in Dutch hospitals during the period 1996–2003, and to compare trends in the commonly used 30-day in-hospital mortality rates with other types of mortality rates which use more extensive follow-up in time and place of death.
Discharge data for all Dutch admissions for index conditions (1996–2003) were linked to the death certification registry. Then, mortality rates within the first 30, 90 and 365 days following admissions were analyzed for deaths occurring within and outside hospitals.
Most deaths within a year after admission occurred within 30 days (60–70%). No significant trends in this distribution of deaths over time were observed. Significant trends in the distribution over place of death were observed for both conditions. For myocardial infarction, the proportion of deaths after transfer to another hospital has doubled from 1996–2003. For stroke a significant rise of the proportion of deaths outside hospital was found. For MI the proportion of deaths attributed to a circulatory disease has significantly fallen ovtime. Seven types of hospital mortality indicators, different in scope and observation period, all show a drop of hospital mortality for both MI and stroke over the period 1996–2003. For stroke the observed absolute reduction in death rate increases for the first year after admission, for MI the observed drop in 365-day overall mortality almost equals the observed drop in 30-day in hospital mortality over 1996–2003.
Changes in the timing, place and causes of death following admissions for myocardial infarction and stroke have important implications for the definitions of in-hospital and post-admission mortality rates as measures of hospital performance. Although necessary for understanding mortality patterns over time, including within mortality rates deaths which occur outside hospitals and after longer periods following index admissions remain debatable and may not reflect actual hospital performance but probably mirrors transfer, efficiency, and other health care policies.
Socio-economic disparities in health status are frequently reported in research. By comparison with education and income, occupational status has been less extensively studied in relation to health status or the occurrence of specific chronic diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate health disparities in the working population based on occupational position and how they were modified by education.
Our data were derived from the National Survey of General Practice that comprised 104 practices in the Netherlands. 136,189 working people aged 25–64 participated in the study. Occupational position was assessed by the International Socio-Economic Index of occupational position (ISEI). Health outcomes were self-perceived health status and physician-diagnosed diseases. Odds ratios were estimated using multivariate logistic regression analysis.
The lowest occupational position was observed to be associated with poor health in men (OR = 1.6, 95% CI 1,5 to 1.7) and women (OR = 1.3, 95% CI 1.2 to 1.4). The risk of poor health gradually decreased in relation to higher occupational positions. People with the lowest occupational positions were more likely to suffer from depression, diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, arthritis, muscle pain, neck and back pain and tension headache, in comparison to people with the highest occupational position (OR 1.2 to 1.6). A lower educational level induced an additional risk of poor health and disease. We found that gender modified the effects on poor health when both occupational position and education were combined in the analysis.
A low occupational position was consistently associated working people with poor health and physician-diagnosed morbidity. However a low educational level was not. Occupational position and education had a combined effect on self-perceived health, which supports the recent call to improve the conceptual framework of health disparities.
In the last 15 years, both the demand for and supply of specialised mental health care increased considerably in the Netherlands. Increased demand may reflect a change in psychological morbidity, but may also be a consequence of increased supply. Specialised health care in the Netherlands is accessible only through referral by a GP, and so it is important to consider the role of primary care in the diagnosis of mental health problems.
The aim of this study is to achieve a better understanding of the development of mental health status in the Dutch population and the consequent help-seeking behaviour in primary care.
Using two comparable morbidity studies carried out in the Dutch population and in primary care, we compared data from 1987 and 2001 to assess the following: possible differences in mental health between 1987 and 2001; possible differences in prevalence of mental disorder as diagnosed by GPs in 1987 and 2001; possible differences in the sociodemographic determinants of mental health and mental disorder in primary care between 1987 and 2001.
Our results show an increase in mental and social problems in the population between 1987 and 2001. However, GPs diagnosed fewer patients as having a mental disorder in 2001 than they did in 1987. The risk of mental disorders or social problems in several sociodemographic groups remained largely the same, as did the chance of receiving a psychological or social diagnosis.
We conclude that, while mental disorder in the population is increasing, the role of primary care has changed. Although GPs diagnose a lower percentage of mental problems as such, they refer an increasingly larger proportion of these to secondary care.
diagnosis; mental health; referral rates
Comorbidity has been shown to intensify health care utilization and to increase medical care costs for patients with diabetes. However, most studies have been focused on one health care service, mainly hospital care, or limited their analyses to one additional comorbid disease, or the data were based on self-reported questionnaires instead of health care registration data. The purpose of this study is to estimate the effects a broad spectrum of of comorbidities on the type and volume of medical health care utilization of patients with diabetes.
By linking general practice and hospital based registrations in the Netherlands, data on comorbidity and health care utilization of patients with diabetes (n = 7,499) were obtained. Comorbidity was defined as diabetes-related comorbiiabetes-related comorbidity. Multilevel regression analyses were applied to estimate the effects of comorbidity on health care utilization.
Our results show that both diabetes-related and non diabetes-related comorbidity increase the use of medical care substantially in patients with diabetes. Having both diabeterelated and non diabetes-related comorbidity incrases the demand for health care even more. Differences in health care utilization patterns were observed between the comorbidities.
Non diabetes-related comorbidity increases the health care demand as much as diabetes-related comorbidity. Current single-disease approach of integrated diabetes care should be extended with additional care modules, which must be generic and include multiple diseases in order to meet the complex health care demands of patients with diabetes in the future.
Comorbidity complicates estimations of health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) using disease prevalences and disability weights from Burden of Disease studies. Usually, the exact amount of comorbidity is unknown and no disability weights are defined for comorbidity.
Using data of the Dutch national burden of disease study, the effects of different methods to adjust for comorbidity on HALE calculations are estimated. The default multiplicative adjustment method to define disability weights for comorbidity is compared to HALE estimates without adjustment for comorbidity and to HALE estimates in which the amount of disability in patients with multiple diseases is solely determined by the disease that leads to most disability (the maximum adjustment method). To estimate the amount of comorbidity, independence between diseases is assumed.
Compared to the multiplicative adjustment method, the maximum adjustment method lowers HALE estimates by 1.2 years for males and 1.9 years for females. Compared to no adjustment, a multiplicative adjustment lowers HALE estimates by 1.0 years for males and 1.4 years for females.
The differences in HALE caused by the different adjustment methods demonstrate that adjusting for comorbidity in HALE calculations is an important topic that needs more attention. More empirical research is needed to develop a more general theory as to how comorbidity influences disability.
In recent years, the use of digital technology has supported widespread sharing of electronic health care data. Although this approach holds considerable promise, it promises to be a complicated and expensive undertaking. This study described the development and implementation of a community wide system for electronic sharing of summary health care utilization data.
The development of the community wide data system focused on the following objectives: ongoing monitoring of the health care system, evaluation of community wide individual provider initiatives, identification and development of new initiatives.
The system focused on the sharing of data related to hospital acute care, emergency medical services, long term care, and mental health. It was based on the daily distribution of reports among all health care providers related to these services.
The development of the summary reports concerning health care utilization produced a system wide view of health care in Syracuse, New York on a daily basis. It was not possible to isolate the results of these reports because of the impact of specific projects and other factors. At the same time, the reports were associated with reduction of hospital inpatient stays, improvement of access to hospital emergency departments, reductions in stays for patients discharged to nursing homes, and increased access of mental health patients to hospital inpatient units.
The implementation of the system demonstrated that summary electronic utilization data could provide daily information that would support the improvement of health care outcomes and efficiency. This approach could be implemented in a simple, direct manner with minimal expenses.
Few studies have tried to assess the combined cross-sectional and temporal contributions of a more comprehensive set of amenable factors to population health outcomes for wealthy countries during the last 30 years of the 20th century. We assessed the overall ecological associations between mortality and factors amenable to public health. These amenable factors included addictive and nutritional lifestyle, air quality, public health spending, healthcare coverage, and immunizations.
We used a pooled cross-sectional, time series analysis with corrected fixed effects regression models in an ecological design involving eighteen member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development during the period 1970 to 1999.
Alcohol, tobacco, and fat consumption, and sometimes, air pollution were significantly associated with higher all-cause mortality and premature death. Immunizations, health care coverage, fruit/vegetable and protein consumption, and collective health expenditure had negative effects on mortality and premature death, even after controlling for the elderly, density of practicing physicians, doctor visits and per capita GDP. However, tobacco, air pollution, and fruit/vegetable intake were sometimes sensitive to adjustments.
Mortality and premature deaths could be improved by focusing on factors that are amenable to public health policies. Tackling these issues should be reflected in the ongoing assessments of health system performance.