Using quality-improvement techniques to enhance patient education and counselling of diagnosis and management

Mohammad Hassan Murad, Prathibha Varkey, Airani Sathananthan, Amanda Scheifer, Sumit Bhagra, Akira Fujiyoshi, Andrea Tom

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Abstract

Background Patients recall less than half the information provided to them by their physicians. Aims The aim of this study was to use qualityimprovement (QI) techniques to enhance patient understanding of diagnosis, management and followup at the end of the office visit. Method QI techniques including stakeholder analysis, processmapping and plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles were used in a pilot study in an outpatient endocrinology clinic specialising in bone disease. The impact of these interventions was evaluated by pre- and post-intervention patient surveys that included qualitative and quantitative data. Results A team of endocrinology fellows and faculty with expertise in QI developed a series of tools to encourage conversation and interaction during the encounter and to serve as a reference for patients to take home through five PDSA cycles. The tools were iterations of written materials provided to patients at the end of the clinical encounter. In each cycle, the tools were modified according to feedback from patients and providers. Ninety-three patients participated in this study. Patients were surveyed after the implementation of two of the five cycles. Compared with pre-intervention, modifications during the two cycles were associated with a non-significant increase in patients’ understanding of the reasons for testing (from 64% to 80% and 75%); management plan (from 61% to 86% and 79%); and future follow-up plans (from 64% to 86% and 81%); P > 0.05 for all three outcomes. Improvement was not seen in patients’ knowledgeof their diagnoses (from 74% to 73% and 70%; P > 0.05). Conclusion This pilot study shows how QI tools can be used for creating and initiating system improvements aimed at enhancing patient education and counselling.

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