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1.  Recognition of physiotherapists’ expertise in Parkinson’s disease 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-430
PMCID: PMC4016478  PMID: 24152942
Provider choice; Comparative performance information; Physiotherapy; Expertise; Parkinson’s disease
2.  Effects of auditing patient safety in hospital care: design of a mixed-method evaluation 
Background
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.
Discussion
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.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR3343
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-226
PMCID: PMC3708817  PMID: 23800253
Hospital; Patient safety; Safety management; Risk management; Complications; Management system audit; Clinical governance; Professional practice; Adverse events; Auditing
3.  Patients' experiences of the quality of long-term care among the elderly: comparing scores over time 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-26
PMCID: PMC3305532  PMID: 22293109
4.  Legal rights of client councils and their role in policy of long-term care organisations in the Netherlands 
Background
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?'
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-215
PMCID: PMC3181203  PMID: 21910899
Consumer participation; empowerment; patients' rights; long-term care
5.  Differences in patient outcomes and chronic care management of oral anticoagulant therapy: an explorative study 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-18
PMCID: PMC3040705  PMID: 21272303
6.  Evaluation of hospital inpatient complications: a planning approach 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-200
PMCID: PMC2914724  PMID: 20618943
7.  Do list size and remuneration affect GPs' decisions about how they provide consultations? 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-39
PMCID: PMC2654894  PMID: 19245685
8.  Do decision support systems influence variation in prescription? 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-20
PMCID: PMC2662826  PMID: 19183464
9.  Benchmarking and reducing length of stay in Dutch hospitals 
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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%.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-220
PMCID: PMC2582034  PMID: 18950476
10.  Mortality in Dutch hospitals: Trends in time, place and cause of death after admission for myocardial infarction and stroke. An observational study 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-52
PMCID: PMC2311302  PMID: 18318897
11.  Comorbidity in patients with diabetes mellitus: impact on medical health care utilization 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-84
PMCID: PMC1534031  PMID: 16820048
12.  Does managed care make a difference? Physicians' length of stay decisions under managed and non-managed care 
Background
In this study we examined the influence of type of insurance and the influence of managed care in particular, on the length of stay decisions physicians make and on variation in medical practice.
Methods
We studied lengths of stay for comparable patients who are insured under managed or non-managed care plans. Seven Diagnosis Related Groups were chosen, two medical (COPD and CHF), one surgical (hip replacement) and four obstetrical (hysterectomy with and without complications and Cesarean section with and without complications). The 1999, 2000 and 2001 – data from hospitals in New York State were used and analyzed with multilevel analysis.
Results
Average length of stay does not differ between managed and non-managed care patients. Less variation was found for managed care patients. In both groups, the variation was smaller for DRGs that are easy to standardize than for other DRGs.
Conclusion
Type of insurance does not affect length of stay. An explanation might be that hospitals have a general policy concerning length of stay, independent of the type of insurance of the patient.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-4-3
PMCID: PMC368442  PMID: 15028122

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