Women's College Research Institute

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Fifty per cent of quality improvement studies fail to change medical practices

October 2014

Fifty per cent of quality improvement studies fail to change medical practicesOne of the most studied questions in healthcare quality improvement research is how to optimize feedback reporting to clinicians to improve their healthcare practices. But a new study has found that over the last two decades, nearly half of all feedback initiatives implemented by scientists and organizations have had little to no impact on quality of care.

The study was led by Dr. Noah Ivers, a family physician at Women’s College Hospital and scientist at Women’s College Research Institute. It was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and covered by Global News.

“While we have a number of studies showing that providing feedback to clinicians can act as a foundation for improving quality of care if done properly,” said Ivers, “we found, in most cases, quality improvement efforts are haphazardly implemented, reinventing the wheel rather than learning from what we already know.”

Ivers and his team found that feedback was most effective when it was delivered by a respected colleague, was repeated multiple times, included specific goals and action plans, and focused on a problem where there was a larger scope for improvement.

To achieve a greater impact with feedback interventions, the team suggests that researchers must build upon prior studies to identify ingredients that make an intervention successful.

“By systematically building on lessons from previous research, we create more opportunities to improve quality of care and outcomes for patients,” says Ivers.

Ivers’ study has already led to discussions with Health Quality Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario, and others regarding how to best implement large-scale feedback initiatives.

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