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Effectiveness of Quality Improvement Coaching on Process Outcomes in Health Care Settings: A Systematic Review.

Ballengee LA, Rushton S, Lewinski AA, Hwang S, Zullig LL, Ricks KAB, Ramos K, Brahmajothi MV, Moore TS, Blalock DV, Cantrell S, Kosinski AS, Gordon A, Ear B, Williams JW, Gierisch JM, Goldstein KM. Effectiveness of Quality Improvement Coaching on Process Outcomes in Health Care Settings: A Systematic Review. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 Mar 1; 37(4):885-899.

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BACKGROUND: A culture of improvement is an important feature of high-quality health care systems. However, health care teams often need support to translate quality improvement (QI) activities into practice. One method of support is consultation from a QI coach. The literature suggests that coaching interventions have a positive impact on clinical outcomes. However, the impact of coaching on specific process outcomes, like adoption of clinical care activities, is unknown. Identifying the process outcomes for which QI coaching is most effective could provide specific guidance on when to employ this strategy. METHODS: We searched multiple databases from inception through July 2021. Studies that addressed the effects of QI coaching on process of care outcomes were included. Two reviewers independently extracted study characteristics and assessed risk of bias. Certainty of evidence was assessed using GRADE. RESULTS: We identified 1983 articles, of which 23 cluster-randomized trials met eligibility criteria. All but two took place in a primary care setting. Overall, interventions typically targeted multiple simultaneous processes of care activities. We found that coaching probably has a beneficial effect on composite process of care outcomes (n = 9) and ordering of labs and vital signs (n = 6), and possibly has a beneficial effect on changes in organizational process of care (n = 5), appropriate documentation (n = 5), and delivery of appropriate counseling (n = 3). We did not perform meta-analyses because of conceptual heterogeneity around intervention design and outcomes; rather, we synthesized the data narratively. Due to imprecision, inconsistency, and high risk of bias of the included studies, we judged the certainty of these results as low or very low. CONCLUSION: QI coaching interventions may affect certain processes of care activities such as ordering of labs and vital signs. Future research that advances the identification of when QI coaching is most beneficial for health care teams seeking to implement improvement processes in pursuit of high-quality care will support efficient use of QI resources. PROTOCOL REGISTRATION: This study was registered and followed a published protocol (PROSPERO: CRD42020165069).

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