Some 7.1 million Americans and an estimated 250,000 Veterans actively using VHA are myocardial infarction (MI) survivors. To date, most guideline interventions focus on a single patient condition but ambulatory post-MI patients are frequently more complex with multiple co-morbidities and conflicting guidelines applicable to them. The goal of VA MI-PLUS is to develop and test an Internet-delivered multi-modal guideline implementation strategy for the purpose of increasing provider adherence to guidelines for complex post-MI patients.
Often, quality improvement interventions are short-term with outcome measures limited to assessment of physician performance. We assessed whether our group randomized trial of a 2-year Internet-delivered intervention was successful. We randomized providers in CBOCs across the VA. Providers participated in a longitudinal education and performance improvement web-delivered intervention. We evaluated the impact of the intervention using patient data from the VA Austin data warehouse, and supplementary data from the VA External Peer Review Program (EPRP),
1) Identify barriers to provider adherence to guidelines within VHA clinics; 2) Apply guideline-based performance measures to electronic medical records (CPRS) and associated administrative data (EPRP); 3) Implement the interactive Internet intervention with VA-specific components, including performance feedback for CBOC clinicians; and 4) Test hypotheses on the intervention's effectiveness, and sustainability in the VA population.
We recruited 168 CBOCs and 401 providers representing 16,314 patients. Intervention providers received a multi-modal Internet-delivered intervention launched in 11/2004 and closed in 01/2007. Providers in intervention CBOCs received a longitudinal 27-month Internet-delivered intervention consisting of quarterly educational modules, clinical practice guidelines, and monthly literature summaries. The website was developed using service-oriented architecture and design principles refined in prior studies. Iterative usability sessions were used to refine the content. The core of the MI-Plus intervention was case-based education using interactive, Internet-delivered modules. Each case-based module reviewed the scientific evidence and relevant guidelines for the study clinical indicators; the format consisted of a series of questions with tailored feedback based on response. In total, 8 cases were provides over 27 months. The website included 1) a literature watch segment updated monthly with 1-3 reviews of recently published studies of high clinical impact and relevant literature; 2) a guidelines component with summaries of current guidelines applicable to post-myocardial infarction patients and links to the guidelines; 3) relevant practice tools and patient educational materials that could be downloaded. Providers in the control CBOCs were provided a link to a website with a list of guidelines supported by the VA Office of Quality and Performance and access to Internet-based education, but to adult medicine modules focused on post-MI patients without individual tailoring.
Outcomes consisted of 3 aspects of post-MI care: monitoring, treating, and changing of LDL and HbA1c levels. As stated outcome data was retrieved from Austin datasets and from Office of Quality Improvement External Peer Review Process chart abstraction. We identified all veterans with a VAMC discharge diagnosis of 410.xx or 412.xx between 2002-2008 who were treated at study CBOCs. We compared monitoring, treatment, and change in Blood Pressure, LDL and hemoglobin A1c across the pre- (2002-11/2004) and post-intervention (02/2007-2008) and adjusted for patient clustering.
Participating providers by randomization arm: 205 intervention and 196 control. Among intervention providers who logged on, the median time on was 6.3 months; 23.3% stayed involved over a 12 month period. VA providers were more likely to participate in this intervention as compared with providers in a similar NHLBI-funded study. Thus, interventions of this type may be especially valuable in VA.
In general, performance measures for monitoring and treating were quite high at baseline. Monitoring and treating of Blood pressure, LDL and HbA1c improved from pre- to post-intervention periods, generally more for intervention than control, but not significantly so.
We did find a significant difference for physiologic control. LDL levels decreased more in the intervention than control groups (18 vs. 14 mg/dl, P = 0.007). Among adults with diabetes, HbA1c levels decreased (-0.13%) in intervention but not in control (0.14%), P = 0.01. Using EPRP data, we found similar effects on LDL, but were not able to assess A1c. Data on blood pressure control was not available.
Our study was successful in demonstrating a difference, favoring the intervention for some measures of patient control (LDL and A1c). However, traditional performance measures were ceiling out at baseline, and we were unable to demonstrate improvement. More nuanced performance measures are needed to detect change from interventions.
We used both EPRP and Austin data to analyze outcomes. It was reassuring that the two methods were in agreement for similar measures (such as lipid control), suggesting concurrent validity of EPRP and Austin data.
Carefully developed, longitudinal Internet-delivered educational interventions can lead to improvements in physiologic measures of cardiovascular risk factors. This intervention was effective in improving lipid and diabetes control among veterans with MI.
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Focus Groups, Myocardial Infarction, Health Education, Physician Practice Patterns, Guidelines, Comorbidity