For more than half a century, traditional continuing medical education (CME) has been a U.S. physician requirement for the advancement of knowledge in the medical profession. Yet within the past decade, there has been a push toward new innovative educational formats which target improved patient outcomes.
Translating knowledge into practice has in a sense moved from pedigree to performance. How are cardiologists employing quality improvement at their practices? The majority of cardiovascular professionals are actively engaged in quality improvement and, in the past year, four-in-five (81%) report that they have participated in activities focused on improving the performance of their practice. The most popular quality improvement activities include reading literature on best practices for a specific cardiovascular condition (56%), talking to decision-makers in the practice about opportunities for improvement (46%), implementing a quality improvement project in their practice (37%), and completing an assessment of quality improvement knowledge (28%).
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” — Goethe
Interestingly, while the majority of cardiologists participate in quality improvement activities, fewer cardiovascular practices as a whole engage in formalized quality improvement. About one-half of practices (47%) have conducted a project specifically undertaken for performance improvement within the past 12 months. Performance improvement projects are likely to involve discussions with physicians (74%), additional data analysis (68%), brainstorming (52%) and root cause analysis (51%). Given the significant role of data analysis and communication, leveraging the wealth of information from outcome reports, electronic health records, national databases, and distributing this information as a tool for performance improvement could prove significant for quality improvement.
Implementing quality activities at the practice level is not without difficulty. The top three challenges that practices face when trying to improve their performance include not having enough financial resources (51%), time (46%) and staff resources (32%).
In the end, today’s cardiology provider is embracing performance and taking steps toward practice improvement despite the fiscal and staffing issues that can hinder success. The focus is on finding solutions that can streamline processes, reduce costs, establish best practices and put the best patient care as their highest objective.