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As Good As It Gets? Managing Risks of Cardiovascular Disease in California's Top-Performing Physician Organizations

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Background: The California Right Care Initiative (RCI) accelerates the adoption of evidence-based guidelines and improved care management practices for conditions for which the gap between science and practice is significant, resulting in preventable disability and death.

Methods: Medical directors and quality improvement leaders from 11 of the 12 physician organizations that met the 2010 national 90th percentile performance benchmarks for control of hyperlipidemia and glycated hemoglobin in 2011 were interviewed in 2012. Interviews, as well as surveys, assessed performance reporting and feedback to individual physicians; medication management protocols; team-based care management; primary care team huddles; coordination of care between primary care clinicians and specialists; implementation of shared medical appointments; and telephone visits for high-risk patients.

Results: All but 1 of 11 organizations implemented electronic health records. Electronic information exchange between primary care physicians and specialists, however, was uncommon. Few organizations routinely used interdisciplinary team approaches, shared medical appointments, or telephonic strategies for managing cardiovascular risks among patients. Implementation barriers included physicians' resistance to change, limited resources and reimbursement for team approaches, and limited organizational capacity for change. Implementation facilitators included routine use of reliable data to guide improvement, leadership facilitation of change, physician buy-in, health information technology use, and financial incentives.

Conclusion: To accelerate improvements in managing cardiovascular risks, physician organizations may need to implement strategies involving extensive practice reorganization and work flow redesign.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2014

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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