ABSTRACT: To investigate the effectiveness of a quality improvement educational program in rural hospitals.
Hospital-randomized controlled trial.
A total of 47 rural and small community hospitals in Texas that had previously received a web-based benchmarking and case-review tool.
The 47 hospitals were randomized either to receive formal quality improvement educational program or to a control group. The educational program consisted of two 2-day didactic sessions on continuous quality improvement techniques, followed by the design, implementation and reporting of a local quality improvement project, with monthly coaching conference calls and annual follow-up conclaves.
Performance on core measures for community-acquired pneumonia and congestive heart failure were compared between study groups to evaluate the impact of the educational program.
No significant differences were observed between the study groups on any measures. Of the 23 hospitals in the intervention group, only 16 completed the didactic program and 6 the full training program. Similar results were obtained when these groups were compared with the control group.
While the observed results suggest no incremental benefit of the quality improvement educational program following implementation of a web-based benchmarking and case-review tool in rural hospitals, given the small number of hospitals that completed the program, it is not conclusive that such programs are ineffective. Further research incorporating supporting infrastructure, such as physician champions, financial incentives and greater involvement of senior leadership, is needed to assess the value of quality improvement educational programs in rural hospitals.
International Journal for Quality in Health Care 05/2009; 21(4):225-32. · 1.96 Impact Factor