Study finds learning communities across country support adoption of health care innovations
Katie Looze Bronk
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(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, September 20, 2018) – Learning communities can provide a rich, collaborative environment that supports the adoption of health care innovations and motivates organizational change. A new study in the October 2018 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety details how three learning communities sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) focused on adopting health care innovations were established and supported.
The study, “Using Learning Communities to Support Adoption of Health Care Innovations,” by Deborah Carpenter, RN, MSN, CPHQ, CPPS, PMP, senior study director, Westat, Rockville, Maryland, and co-authors, describes how the learning communities focused on three high-priority areas: advancing the practice of patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) in hospitals, promoting medication therapy management for at-risk populations, and reducing non-urgent emergency services.
Members of each learning community worked collaboratively in facilitated settings to adapt and implement strategies featured in the AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange. The Innovations Exchange was a web-based repository of more than 900 evidence-based service delivery and policy innovations, as well as 1,500 tools for improving quality and reducing disparities.
All three learning communities achieved significant improvements:
Learning Community 1 (Advancing the Practice of PFCC in Hospitals):The PFCC Learning Community consisted of 11 Florida-based acute care hospitals that worked together over an 18-month period to establish or enhance a patient and family advisory council (PFAC). The number of participating hospitals with a PFAC increased from 4 to 11, and the total number of active patient and family advisors increased from 56 to 129.
Learning Community 2 (Promoting Medication Therapy Management for At-Risk Populations):Spring Branch Community Health Center, Texas, enrolled 57 at-risk patients into the MyRx pilot program and retained 38 of those patients throughout the entire 6-month pilot test period. During the program, pharmacists provided more than 230 interventions. Patients who received one-on-one counseling from a pharmacist had greater changes in blood glucose levels compared to those who did not.
Learning Community 3 (Reducing Non-Urgent Emergency Services):A protocol was developed to enable Detroit emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to make real-time referrals to community organizations; identify and work with the top 25 EMS users; and intervene at local “hot spots” where there was significant EMS activity. In a 12-month period, EMS made 288 referrals to community organizations and preliminary results showed fewer 911 calls and shorter EMS response times.
The improvements indicate that the learning community model of group learning can serve as an effective method to support dissemination and implementation of innovations, as well as achieve desired outcomes in local settings.
“The learning communities brought additional resources to the systems, including support staff serving as a lead facilitator, a knowledge integrator, and an assistant to help with communications and logistics. They also provided connections to subject matter experts and some financial support for clinics with limited resources,” notes Shivan J. Mehta, MD, MBA, MSHP, assistant professor, Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in an accompanying editorial.
The study and editorial are available in open access through October 17. Also featured in the October 2018 issue:
Note for editors
The article is “Using Learning Communities to Support Adoption of Health Care Innovations,” by Deborah Carpenter, RN, MSN, CPHQ, CPPS, PMP; Susan Hassell, MS, MPH; Russ Mardon, PhD; Shannon Fair, RN, MPH; Maurice Johnson, Jr., MPH; Sari Siegel, PhD, CPHQ; and Mary Nix, MS, PMP. The article appears in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, volume 44, number 10 (October 2018), published by Elsevier.
The editorial is “Scaling and Spreading Innovation in Health Care Delivery,” by Shivan J. Mehta, MD, MBA, MSHP. The article appears in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, volume 44, number 10 (October 2018), published by Elsevier.
The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety (JQPS) is a peer-reviewed journal providing health care professionals with innovative thinking, strategies and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. JQPS is the official journal of The Joint Commission and Joint Commission Resources, Inc. Original case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or the new application of methodologies, research studies, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.