Quality of acute stroke care improvement framework for the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry: Facilitating policy and system change at the hospital level
The Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry prototypes baseline data collection demonstrated a significant gap in the use of evidenced-based interventions. Barriers to the use of these interventions can be characterized as relating to lack of knowledge, attitudes, and ineffective behaviors and systems. Quality improvement programs can address these issues by providing didactic presentations to disseminate the science and peer interactions to address the lack of belief in the evidence, guidelines, and likelihood of improved patient outcomes. Even with knowledge and intention to provide evidenced-based care, the absence of effective systems is a significant behavioral barrier. A program for quality improvement that includes multidisciplinary teams of clinical and quality improvement professionals has been successfully used to carry out redesign of stroke care delivery systems. Teams are given a methodology to set goals, test ideas for system redesign, and implement those changes that can be successfully adapted to the hospital’s environment. Bringing teams from several hospitals together substantially accelerates the process by sharing examples of successful change and by providing strategies to support the behavior change necessary for the adoption of new systems. The participation of many hospitals also creates momentum for the adoption of change by demonstrating observable and successful improvement. Data collection and feedback are useful to demonstrate the need for change and evaluate the impact of system change, but improvement occurs very slowly without a quality improvement program. This quality improvement framework provides hospitals with the capacity and support to redesign systems, and has been shown to improve stroke care considerably, when coupled with an Internet-based decision support registry, and at a much more rapid pace than when hospitals use only the support registry.