BackgroundThis paper presents a case study that demonstrates the evolution of a project entitled "Enhancing QUality-of-care In Psychosis" (EQUIP) that began approximately when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), and implementation science were emerging. EQUIP developed methods and tools to implement chronic illness care principles in the treatment of schizophrenia, and evaluated this implementation using a small-scale controlled trial. The next iteration of the project, EQUIP-2, was further informed by implementation science and the use of QUERI tools.
MethodsThis paper reports the background, development, results and implications of EQUIP, and also describes ongoing work in the second phase of the project (EQUIP-2). The EQUIP intervention uses implementation strategies and tools to increase the adoption and implementation of chronic illness care principles. In EQUIP-2, these strategies and tools are conceptually grounded in a stages-of-change model, and include clinical and delivery system interventions and adoption/implementation tools. Formative evaluation occurs in conjunction with the intervention, and includes developmental, progress-focused, implementation-focused, and interpretive evaluation.
ResultsEvaluation of EQUIP provided an understanding of quality gaps and how to address related problems in schizophrenia. EQUIP showed that solutions to quality problems in schizophrenia differ by treatment domain and are exacerbated by a lack of awareness of evidence-based practices. EQUIP also showed that improving care requires creating resources for physicians to help them easily implement practice changes, plus intensive education as well as product champions who help physicians use these resources. Organizational changes, such as the addition of care managers and informatics systems, were shown to help physicians with identifying problems, making referrals, and monitoring follow-up. In EQUIP-2, which is currently in progress, these initial findings were used to develop a more comprehensive approach to implementing and evaluating the chronic illness care model.
DiscussionIn QUERI, small-scale projects contribute to the development and enhancement of hands-on, action-oriented service-directed projects that are grounded in current implementation science. This project supports the concept that QUERI tools can be useful in implementing complex care models oriented toward evidence-based improvement of clinical care.