Data Drive Quality Improvement in a Patient-Centered Oncology Medical Home

Meg Barbor, MPH

May 2016, Vol 6, No 5 - Quality Care

Aggregated real-time data provide the tools to rapidly ident­ify opportunities for the improvement of delivered services and for the initiation of quality improvement projects. Enhanced information technology capabilities, such as the iRiS software app, are foundational for practice transformation to future value-­based cancer care models, according to John D. Sprandio, Sr, MD, Chief Physician, Consultants in Medical Oncology and Hematology (CMOH), Drexel Hill, PA.

CMOH, a practice with 3 locations serving 2 health systems and 5 hospitals in the suburbs of Philadelphia, demonstrated that standardized processes and enhanced information technology capabilities such as iRiS provided a rapid learning system for the practice. The data that were aggregated by iRiS became the basis for quality improvement projects, which allowed CMOH to continue to improve its quality and cost measures, Dr Sprandio explained at the 2016 Quality Care Symposium.

In 2010, CMOH became the first oncology practice to be recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a level 3 patient-centered medical home.

“The model that we’ve been working on for a number of years is an oncology patient-centered medical home model of care, where there is a great deal of standardization of process roles and responsibilities,” Dr Sprandio said.

“We’ve developed a software overlay that collects data directly from patients, organizes it in a standardized way, and presents it in a format that is essentially a template for documentation,” he said.

Initiating a Quality Improvement Project

A review of data from 2012 at CMOH identified an increase in their rate of hospitalizations, which initiated a quality improvement project. Data, processes, and staff were observed at all 3 practice sites, and inconsistent processes in telephone triage symptom management were identified at 1 of the 3 practice locations. “It was determined that symptom calls in the early to mid-afternoon were being directed to the emergency department, and a higher percentage of these evaluations resulted in admissions,” said Dr Sprandio.

After an analysis of site-specific performance, steps were taken to restructure roles and internal processes. The staff was adjusted (a nurse practitioner was added at the site), telephone triage services were adjusted from 3 sites to 1 site to reduce variability in execution, algorithms were reviewed and revised, education materials were improved to enhance patient engagement, and nursing and physician actions were streamlined around triage-related processes.

“This resulted in resetting our trend in emergency department utilization and admissions, increasing the number of calls into the telephone triage service, increasing the percentage of symptoms managed at home, and decreasing the number of office visits within 24 hours,” Dr Sprandio reported.

“This is just an example of having tools and systems in place so that data are collected and reported, and data collection processes and reporting processes continue to be refined,” he added. “Quality is the degree to which the services in a center can increase the likelihood for desired outcomes.”

“This System Works”

“Dr Sprandio is a pioneer in his space,” said Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, Chief, Division of Population Sciences, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

“He has identified opportunities to build value in oncology care by integrating across traditional boundaries, building a team culture of responsibility by anticipating patient needs and problems, and building a bedrock solid data platform, and he has really tried to move up the ladder from descriptive to predictive analytics,” Dr Schrag said.

“This system works, as they were able to decrease their hospitalizations and adverse events,” Dr Schrag added. “Dr Sprandio’s model is a prototype to try to help us understand and adapt as we’re required to switch away from fee-for-service systems.”