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Staffing challenges and general time constraints may harm primary care teams’ ability to implement quality improvement efforts

Written by | 26 Sep 2023 | Occupational Health

Researchers aimed to identify factors leading primary care practice personnel to decline participation in quality improvement (QI) projects, and strategies to improve the feasibility and attractiveness of QI projects in the future. Representatives from 31 practices agreed to participate in the study. Overwhelmingly, respondents said that staff turnover, staffing shortages, and general time constraints, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, prevented participation in QI projects. Challenges with electronic health records (EHR); an expectation for greater financial compensation for participation; and confidence in the practices’ current care practices were secondary reasons for declining participation. The authors identified major strategies to help facilitate recruitment in conducting QIs, including tying participation to value‐based programs and offering greater compensation. However, none of the respondents’ recommendations addressed the primary issues of staffing challenges and time constraints.

What We Know: Numerous supportive quality improvement (QI) projects exist, which can facilitate the implementation of evidence‐based practices in primary care. However, recruiting physician practices to join these projects is challenging, costly and time‐consuming.

What This Study Adds: Through the use of qualitative interviews, researchers found that primary care clinic personnel face myriad challenges to participating in QI efforts, including staff turnover, staffing shortages, and general time constraints, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They recommend that policy makers consider direct support for primary care, which may also help to alleviate burnout.

Declining Participation in Primary Care Quality Improvement Research: A Qualitative Study

Megan McHugh, PhD, et al
Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois

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