A Resident-driven Quality Improvement Project to Increase Primary Care Follow-up after Congestive Heart Failure Exacerbation: Use of a Quality and Safety Award

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American journal of medical quality


OBJECTIVES: Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the most common cause of 30-day inpatient readmission. Studies have found that early follow-up with primary care physicians (PCP) within 7 days of discharge may improve 30-day readmission rates; however, many have used a multidisciplinary discharge coordination team, which is not a resource at all centers. Here, the authors present a resident-driven quality improvement initiative using a monthly quality and safety award to increase early PCP follow-up for veterans discharged following admissions due to a CHF exacerbation. Primary outcomes were percentage of PCP follow-up within 7 days and median time to PCP follow-up. Secondary outcomes included percentage of patients attending a PCP visit within 7 days, 30-day readmission, and 30-day mortality.

METHODS: This prepost quasi-experimental cohort study evaluated 3 concurrent quality improvement interventions to increase PCP follow-up after CHF exacerbation. Process maps and Ishikawa diagrams examined the discharge process. Interventions included a standardized discharge scheduling order, monthly education on the process, and monthly aggregated performance feedback for each medical resident. A patient safety and quality award was given to the team with the highest rate of PCP appointments scheduled within 7 days. Patient characteristics and outcomes were gathered for a 6-month historic period and 6-month intervention period. Test of proportions and Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test were used to compare groups.

RESULTS: A total of 294 patients were discharged (161 in historic group and 133 in intervention group). Appointments scheduled within 7 days of discharge increased from 43% to 79% (P < 0.001). Median time to PCP follow-up decreased from 8 to 6 days (P < 0.001). Patients who completed (showed up to) a PCP appointment within 7 days increased from 16% to 41% (P < 0.001). There was no impact on 30-day readmission or mortality; however, the number of study subjects was too small to rule out an effect.

CONCLUSIONS: A standardized discharge scheduling order, more robust resident education, and a monthly patient safety and quality award resulted in a significant increase in the rate of primary care follow-up within 7 days of CHF exacerbation.

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ePub ahead of print