Involving primary care clinicians in quality improvement

An independent evaluation of the Health Foundation’s Engaging with Quality in Primary Care programme

April 2012

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Key points

  • This report highlights the lessons to be drawn from the Engaging with Quality in Primary Care (EwQPC) improvement programme and also offers a candid critique of quality improvement approaches and evaluation methods. 
  • It provides clear lessons about the challenges of undertaking improvement work and confirms the findings of other similar studies that show differences between ambition and practice.
  • Its observations are likely to make important contributions to the developing field of improvement science.

This is the report of an independent evaluation of our Engaging with Quality in Primary Care (EwQPC) improvement programme.

In 2007 we launched the EwQPC improvement programme. The programme funded nine projects that would increase the capacity for clinical quality improvement in primary care and engage primary care clinicians in clinical quality improvement. Building upon a previous initiative in secondary care (the Engaging with Quality Initiative), it aimed to engage primary care clinicians in clinical quality measurement and enable them to contribute to the knowledge base on improvement.

The independent evaluation, undertaken by a team from RAND Europe, identified a wide set of benefits. The projects secured and maintained the involvement of clinicians and were associated with changes in clinicians’ attitudes, behaviours and understanding. Patient involvement was an important and successful element of the programme. The projects also learned a lot about the challenges and opportunities of implementing improvement efforts. Measureable benefits for patients were found, but overall they were modest and patchy.

 

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