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Improving primary care team functioning through evidence based quality improvement: A comparative case study.

Ovsepyan H, Chuang E, Brunner J, Hamilton AB, Needleman J, Heilemann M, Canelo I, Yano EM. Improving primary care team functioning through evidence based quality improvement: A comparative case study. Healthcare (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2023 Jun 1; 11(2):100691.

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BACKGROUND: Provision of team-based primary care (PC) is associated with improved care quality, but limited empirical evidence guides practices on how to optimize team functioning. We examined how evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI) was used to change PC team processes. EBQI activities were supported by research-clinical partnerships and included multilevel stakeholder engagement, external facilitation, technical support, formative feedback, QI training, local QI development and across-site collaboration to share proven practices. METHODS: We used a comparative case study in two VA medical centers (Sites A and B) that engaged in EBQI between 2014 and 2016. We analyzed multiple qualitative data sources: baseline and follow-up interviews with key stakeholders and provider team ("teamlet") members (n  =  64), and EBQI meeting notes, reports, and supporting materials. RESULTS: Site A's QI project entailed engaging in structured daily huddles using a huddle checklist and developing a protocol clarifying team member roles and responsibilities; Site B initiated weekly virtual team meetings that spanned two practice locations. Respondents from both sites perceived these projects as improving team structure and staffing, team communications, role clarity, staff voice and personhood, accountability, and ultimately, overall team functioning over time. CONCLUSION: EBQI enabled local QI teams and other stakeholders to develop and implement innovations to improve PC team processes and characteristics in ways that improved teamlet members' perceptions of team functioning. IMPLICATIONS: EBQI's multi-level approach may empower staff and facilitate innovation by and within teams, making it an effective implementation strategy for addressing unique practice-based challenges and supporting improvements in team functioning across varied clinical settings. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: VI.

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