A Quality Improvement Program to Reduce Unnecessary Referrals for Adolescent Scoliosis
ABSTRACT Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a relatively common reason for referral to orthopedic surgery, but most referred patients do not require bracing or surgery. We developed a quality improvement (QI) program within the Pediatric Physicians' Organization at Children's, an independent practice association affiliated with Boston Children's Hospital, to reduce unnecessary specialty referrals for AIS.
The QI program consisted of physician education, decision support tools available at the point of care, and longitudinal feedback of data on physician referrals for AIS. Referral patterns in the 2-year postintervention period were tracked and compared with those of the 2-year preintervention period. Clinical characteristics of referred patients were compared through claims analysis and chart review.
Initial visits to orthopedic surgery for AIS declined from 5.1 to 4.1 per 1000 adolescents per year, a reduction of 20.4% (P = .01). Process control chart analysis showed a rapid change in referral patterns after the initiation of the program which was sustained over the 2-year postintervention period and demonstrated that 66 initial and 131 total AIS specialty visits were avoided as a result of the program.
A QI program consisting of physician education, decision support available at the point of care, and longitudinal data feedback led to a sustained reduction in unnecessary referrals for AIS. This program can serve as a model for other programs that seek to shift the locus of care from specialists to primary care providers.
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ABSTRACT: Pediatric constipation is commonly managed in the primary care setting, where there is much variability in management and specialty referral use. Shared Care is a collaborative quality improvement initiative between Boston Children's Hospital and the Pediatric Physician's Organization at Children's (PPOC), through which subspecialists provide primary care providers with education, decision-support tools, pre-referral management recommendations, and access to advice. We investigated whether Shared Care reduces referrals and improves adherence to established clinical guidelines. We reviewed the primary care management of patients 1 to 18 years old seen by a Boston Children's Hospital gastroenterologist and diagnosed with constipation who were referred from PPOC practices in the 6 months before and after implementation of Shared Care. Charts were assessed for patient factors and key components of management. We also tracked referral rates for all PPOC patients for 29 months before implementation and 19 months after implementation. Fewer active patients in the sample were referred after implementation (61/27 365 [0.22%] vs 90/27 792 [0.36%], P = .003). The duration of pre-referral management increased, and the rate of fecal impaction decreased after implementation. No differences were observed in documentation of key management recommendations. Analysis of medical claims showed no statistically significant change in referrals. A multifaceted initiative to support primary care management of constipation can alter clinical care, but changes in referral behavior and pre-referral management may be difficult to detect and sustain. Future efforts may benefit from novel approaches to provider engagement and systems integration. Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.PEDIATRICS 04/2015; 135(5). DOI:10.1542/peds.2014-1962 · 5.30 Impact Factor
- Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation 06/2015; 96(6). DOI:10.1016/j.apmr.2015.02.030 · 2.44 Impact Factor