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
This study is initiated to evaluate the effects, costs, and feasibility at the hospital and patient level of an evidence-based strategy to improve the use of Dutch perioperative safety guidelines. Based on current knowledge, expert opinions and expertise of the project team, a multifaceted implementation strategy has been developed.
This is a stepped wedge cluster randomized trial including nine representative hospitals across The Netherlands. Hospitals are stratified into three groups according to hospital type and geographical location and randomized in terms of the period for receipt of the intervention. All adult surgical patients meeting the inclusion criteria are assessed for patient outcomes. The implementation strategy includes education, audit and feedback, organizational interventions (e.g., local embedding of the guidelines), team-directed interventions (e.g., multi-professional team training), reminders, as well as patient-mediated interventions (e.g., patient safety cards). To tailor the implementation activities, we developed a questionnaire to identify barriers for effective guideline adherence, based on (a) a theoretical framework for classifying barriers and facilitators, (b) an instrument for measuring determinants of innovations, and (c) 19 semi-structured interviews with perioperative key professionals. Primary outcome is guideline adherence measured at the hospital (i.e., cluster) and patient levels by a set of perioperative Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs), which was developed parallel to the perioperative guidelines. Secondary outcomes at the patient level are in-hospital complications, postoperative wound infections and mortality, length of hospital stay, and unscheduled transfer to the intensive care unit, non-elective readmission to the hospital and unplanned reoperation, all within 30 days after the initial surgery. Also, patient safety culture and team climate will be studied as potential determinants. Finally, a process evaluation is conducted to identify the compliance with the implementation strategy, as well as an economic evaluation to assess the costs. Data sources are registered clinical data and surveys. There is no form of blinding.
The perioperative setting is an unexplored area with respect to implementation issues. This study is expected to yield important new evidence about the effects of a multifaceted approach on guideline adherence in the perioperative care setting.
Dutch trial registry: NTR3568
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0198-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Guideline adherence; Health-care quality indicators; Implementation; Multifaceted approach; Patient safety; Perioperative care; Stepped wedge design
Choice of hospital based on comparative performance information (CPI) was introduced for Dutch healthcare consumers at least 5 years ago, but CPI use has not yet become commonplace. Our aim was to assess the role of patients’ expectations regarding variation in the quality of hospital care in determining whether they search for CPI.
A questionnaire (for a cross-sectional survey) was distributed to 475 orthopaedic patients in a consecutive sample, who underwent primary hip or knee replacement in a university, teaching, or community hospital between September 2009 and July 2010.
Of the 302 patients (63%) who responded, 13% reported searching for CPI to help them choose a hospital. People who expected quality differences between hospitals (67%) were more likely to search for CPI (OR =3.18 [95% CI: 1.02–9.89]; p <0.04) than those who did not. Quality differences were most often expected in hospital reputation, distance, and accessibility. Patients who did not search for CPI stated that they felt no need for this type of information.
Patients’ expectations regarding variation in quality of care are positively related to their reported search for CPI. To increase the relevance of CPI for patients, future studies should explore the underlying reasoning of patients about meaningful quality-of-care variation between hospitals.
Expectations; Comparative performance information; Practice variation; Quality of care; Hip replacement; Knee replacement; Elective surgery
Computerized decision support systems (CDSSs) are increasingly used to improve quality of care. There is evidence for moderate to large effects from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), but evidence on their effectiveness when implemented at a national level is lacking. In the Netherlands, the Dutch College of General Practitioners (NHG) initiated their successful guideline program already 30 years ago. NHGDoc, a CDSS based on these NHG guidelines, covering multiple disease areas for general practice, was developed in 2006 with the aim to improve quality of primary care. In this paper, a protocol is presented to evaluate the uptake and effects of NHGDoc.
A cluster RCT will be conducted among 120 general practices in the Netherlands. Eligible general practices will be randomized to receive either the regular NHGDoc decision support modules (control arm) or the regular modules plus an additional module on heart failure (intervention arm). The heart failure module consists of patient-specific alerts concerning the treatment of patients with heart failure. The effect evaluation will focus on performance indicators (e.g., prescription behavior) as well as on patient outcomes (e.g., hospital admissions) relevant in the domain of heart failure. Additionally, a process evaluation will be conducted to gain insight into the barriers and facilitators that affect the uptake and impact of NHGDoc.
Results of this study will provide insight in the uptake and impact of a multiple-domain covering CDSS for primary care implemented by a national guideline organization to improve the quality of primary care. Whereas the trial focuses on a specific domain of care—heart failure—conclusions of this study will shed light on the functioning of CDSSs covering multiple disease areas for primary care, particularly as this study also explores the factors contributing to the system’s uptake and effectiveness.
Clinical trials NCT01773057
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0145-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Clinical decision support; Clinical practice guidelines; Primary care; Process of care; Patient outcomes
Comparative performance information (CPI) about the quality of hospital care is information used to identify high-quality hospitals and providers. As the gatekeeper to secondary care, the general practitioner (GP) can use CPI to reflect on the pros and cons of the available options with the patient and choose a provider best fitted to the patient’s needs. We investigated how GPs view their role in using CPI to choose providers and support patients.
We used a mixed-method, sequential, exploratory design to conduct explorative interviews with 15 GPs about their referral routines, methods of referral consideration, patient involvement, and the role of CPI. Then we quantified the qualitative results by sending a survey questionnaire to 81 GPs affiliated with a representative national research network.
Seventy GPs (86% response rate) filled out the questionnaire. Most GPs did not know where to find CPI (87%) and had never searched for it (94%). The GPs reported that they were not motivated to use CPI due to doubts about its role as support information, uncertainty about the effect of using CPI, lack of faith in better outcomes, and uncertainty about CPI content and validity. Nonetheless, most GPs believed that patients would like to be informed about quality-of-care differences (62%), and about half the GPs discussed quality-of-care differences with their patients (46%), though these discussions were not based on CPI.
Decisions about referrals to hospital care are not based on CPI exchanges during GP consultations. As a gatekeeper, the GP is in a good position to guide patients through the enormous amount of quality information that is available. Nevertheless, it is unclear how and whether the GP’s role in using information about quality of care in the referral process can grow, as patients hardly ever initiate a discussion based on CPI, though they seem to be increasingly more critical about differences in quality of care. Future research should address the conditions needed to support GPs’ ability and willingness to use CPI to guide their patients in the referral process.
Primary care; Doctor-patient relationship; Access to care; Performance information; Quality of care; Qualitative research; Quantitative research; Mixed methods
We developed an outcome indicator based on the finding that complications often prolong the patient's hospital stay. A higher percentage of patients with an unexpectedly long length of stay (UL-LOS) compared to the national average may indicate shortcomings in patient safety. We explored the utility of the UL-LOS indicator.
We used data of 61 Dutch hospitals. In total these hospitals had 1 400 000 clinical discharges in 2011.
The indicator is based on the percentage of patients with a prolonged length of stay of more than 50% of the expected length of stay and calculated among survivors.
No interventions were made.
The outcome measures were the variability of the indicator across hospitals, the stability over time, the correlation between the UL-LOS and standardised mortality and the influence on the indicator of hospitals that did have problems discharging their patients to other health services such as nursing homes.
In order to compare hospitals properly the expected length of stay was computed based on comparison with benchmark populations. The standardisation was based on patients’ age, primary diagnosis and main procedure. The UL-LOS indicator showed considerable variability between the Dutch hospitals: from 8.6% to 20.1% in 2011. The outcomes had relatively small CIs since they were based on large numbers of patients. The stability of the indicator over time was quite high. The indicator had a significant positive correlation with the standardised mortality (r=0.44 (p<0.001)), and no significant correlation with the percentage of patients that was discharged to other facilities than other hospitals and home (r=−0.15 (p>0.05)).
The UL-LOS indicator is a useful addition to other patient safety indicators by revealing variation between hospitals and areas of possible patient safety improvement.
Publicly available information comparing performance across quality and costs has proliferated in recent years, both about individual healthcare professionals and hospitals. This type of information is now becoming increasingly available for physiotherapists with expertise in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Our study aimed to explore the ability of people with Parkinson’s disease to recognise expertise, and to what extent respondents selectively choose such expert physiotherapists.
We used claim data from the period 2009–2010 to select customers with PD who claimed physiotherapy. A random sample of 500 eligible respondents received a paper-based survey. We used descriptive statistics to compare the respondent characteristics, a qualitative programme to analyse the qualitative items, and univariate and multivariate regression.
Most respondents (89%) took their referring physician’s advice when selecting a physiotherapist, although this advice rarely was supported with arguments. The remaining respondents (11%) searched for comparative performance information about physiotherapists. Respondents who recognised the added value of PD expertise among physiotherapists were 3.28 times as likely to search for comparative performance information as those who did not understand. Respondents were willing to switch to an expert physiotherapist (68%), and this willingness increased if they recognised the value of PD expertise (p < .001).
The participants were able to recognise certain aspects of expertise. Though they showed relatively few signs of selectively choice behaviour for expert physiotherapists. Both respondents and referring professionals need more understanding about the added value of an expert physiotherapist, to foster selective provider choice.
Provider choice; Comparative performance information; Physiotherapy; Expertise; Parkinson’s disease
Auditing of patient safety aims at early detection of risks of adverse events and is intended to encourage the continuous improvement of patient safety. The auditing should be an independent, objective assurance and consulting system. Auditing helps an organisation accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance. Audits are broadly conducted in hospitals, but little is known about their effects on the behaviour of healthcare professionals and patient safety outcomes. This study was initiated to evaluate the effects of patient safety auditing in hospital care and to explore the processes and mechanisms underlying these effects.
Methods and design
Our study aims to evaluate an audit system to monitor and improve patient safety in a hospital setting. We are using a mixed-method evaluation with a before-and-after study design in eight departments of one university hospital in the period October 2011–July 2014. We measure several outcomes 3 months before the audit and 15 months after the audit. The primary outcomes are adverse events and complications. The secondary outcomes are experiences of patients, the standardised mortality ratio, prolonged hospital stay, patient safety culture, and team climate. We use medical record reviews, questionnaires, hospital administrative data, and observations to assess the outcomes. A process evaluation will be used to find out which components of internal auditing determine the effects.
We report a study protocol of an effect and process evaluation to determine whether auditing improves patient safety in hospital care. Because auditing is a complex intervention targeted on several levels, we are using a combination of methods to collect qualitative and quantitative data about patient safety at the patient, professional, and department levels. This study is relevant for hospitals that want to early detect unsafe care and improve patient safety continuously.
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR3343
Hospital; Patient safety; Safety management; Risk management; Complications; Management system audit; Clinical governance; Professional practice; Adverse events; Auditing
Despite the favorable effects of behavior change interventions on diabetes risk, lifestyle modification is a complicated process. In this study we therefore investigated opportunities for refining a lifestyle intervention for type 2 diabetes prevention, based on participant perceptions of behavior change progress.
A 30 month intervention was performed in Dutch primary care among high-risk individuals (FINDRISC-score ≥ 13) and was compared to usual care. Participant perceptions of behavior change progress for losing weight, dietary modification, and increasing physical activity were assessed after18 months with questionnaires. Based on the response, participants were categorized as ‘planners’, ‘initiators’ or ‘achievers’ and frequencies were evaluated in both study groups. Furthermore, participants reported on barriers for lifestyle change.
In both groups, around 80% of all participants (intervention: N = 370; usual care: N = 322) planned change. Except for reducing fat intake (p = 0.08), the number of initiators was significantly higher in the intervention group than in usual care. The percentage of achievers was high for the dietary and exercise objectives (intervention: 81–95%; usual care: 83–93%), but was lower for losing weight (intervention: 67%; usual care: 62%). Important motivational barriers were ‘I already meet the standards’ and ‘I’m satisfied with my current behavior’. Temptation to snack, product taste and lack of time were important volitional barriers.
The results suggest that the intervention supports participants to bridge the gap between motivation and action. Several opportunities for intervention refinement are however revealed, including more stringent criteria for participant inclusion, tools for (self)-monitoring of health, emphasis on the ‘small-step-approach’, and more attention for stimulus control.
Netherlands Trial Register: NTR1082
Type 2 diabetes; Primary care; Behavior change; Lifestyle intervention
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.
Feedback is potentially effective in improving the quality of care. However, merely sending reports is no guarantee that performance data are used as input for systematic quality improvement (QI). Therefore, we developed a multifaceted intervention tailored to prospectively analyzed barriers to using indicators: the Information Feedback on Quality Indicators (InFoQI) program. This program aims to promote the use of performance indicator data as input for local systematic QI. We will conduct a study to assess the impact of the InFoQI program on patient outcome and organizational process measures of care, and to gain insight into barriers and success factors that affected the program's impact. The study will be executed in the context of intensive care. This paper presents the study's protocol.
We will conduct a cluster randomized controlled trial with intensive care units (ICUs) in the Netherlands. We will include ICUs that submit indicator data to the Dutch National Intensive Care Evaluation (NICE) quality registry and that agree to allocate at least one intensivist and one ICU nurse for implementation of the intervention. Eligible ICUs (clusters) will be randomized to receive basic NICE registry feedback (control arm) or to participate in the InFoQI program (intervention arm). The InFoQI program consists of comprehensive feedback, establishing a local, multidisciplinary QI team, and educational outreach visits. The primary outcome measures will be length of ICU stay and the proportion of shifts with a bed occupancy rate above 80%. We will also conduct a process evaluation involving ICUs in the intervention arm to investigate their actual exposure to and experiences with the InFoQI program.
The results of this study will inform those involved in providing ICU care on the feasibility of a tailored multifaceted performance feedback intervention and its ability to accelerate systematic and local quality improvement. Although our study will be conducted within the domain of intensive care, we believe our conclusions will be generalizable to other settings that have a quality registry including an indicator set available.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN50542146
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.
The QUALICOPC (Quality and Costs of Primary Care in Europe) study aims to evaluate the performance of primary care systems in Europe in terms of quality, equity and costs. The study will provide an answer to the question what strong primary care systems entail and which effects primary care systems have on the performance of health care systems. QUALICOPC is funded by the European Commission under the "Seventh Framework Programme". In this article the background and design of the QUALICOPC study is described.
QUALICOPC started in 2010 and will run until 2013. Data will be collected in 31 European countries (27 EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey) and in Australia, Israel and New Zealand. This study uses a three level approach of data collection: the system, practice and patient. Surveys will be held among general practitioners (GPs) and their patients, providing evidence at the process and outcome level of primary care. These surveys aim to gain insight in the professional behaviour of GPs and the expectations and actions of their patients. An important aspect of this study is that each patient's questionnaire can be linked to their own GP's questionnaire. To gather data at the structure or national level, the study will use existing data sources such as the System of Health Accounts and the Primary Health Care Activity Monitor Europe (PHAMEU) database. Analyses of the data will be performed using multilevel models.
By its design, in which different data sources are combined for comprehensive analyses, QUALICOPC will advance the state of the art in primary care research and contribute to the discussion on the merit of strengthening primary care systems and to evidence based health policy development.
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.
Quality indicators are increasingly used in healthcare but there are various barriers hindering their routine use. To promote the use of quality indicators, an exploration of the barriers to and facilitating factors for their implementation among healthcare professionals and managers of intensive care units (ICUs) is advocated.
All intensivists, ICU nurses, and managers (n = 142) working at 54 Dutch ICUs who participated in training sessions to support future implementation of quality indicators completed a questionnaire on perceived barriers and facilitators. Three types of barriers related to knowledge, attitude, and behaviour were assessed using a five-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree).
Behaviour-related barriers such as time constraints were most prominent (Mean Score, MS = 3.21), followed by barriers related to knowledge and attitude (MS = 3.62; MS = 4.12, respectively). Type of profession, age, and type of hospital were related to knowledge and behaviour. The facilitating factor perceived as most important by intensivists was administrative support (MS = 4.3; p = 0.02); for nurses, it was education (MS = 4.0; p = 0.01), and for managers, it was receiving feedback (MS = 4.5; p = 0.001).
Our results demonstrate that healthcare professionals and managers are familiar with using quality indicators to improve care, and that they have positive attitudes towards the implementation of quality indicators. Despite these facts, it is necessary to lower the barriers related to behavioural factors. In addition, as the barriers and facilitating factors differ among professions, age groups, and settings, tailored strategies are needed to implement quality indicators in daily practice.
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.