van Eeghen CO, Littenberg B, Kessler R. Chronic care coordination by integrating care through a team-based, population-driven approach: a case study. Translational Behavioral Medicine. 2018;8: 468-80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tbm/ibx073
Patients with chronic conditions frequently experience behavioral comorbidities to which primary care cannot easily respond. This study observed a Vermont family medicine practice with integrated medical and behavioral health services that use a structured approach to implement a chronic care management system with Lean. The practice chose to pilot a population-based approach to improve outcomes for patients with poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes using a stepped-care model with an interprofessional team including a community health nurse. This case study observed the team’s use of Lean, with which it designed and piloted a clinical algorithm composed of patient self-assessment, endorsement of behavioral goals, shared documentation of goals and plans, and follow-up. The team redesigned workflows and measured reach (patients who engaged to the end of the pilot), outcomes (HbA1c results), and process (days between HbA1c tests). The researchers evaluated practice member self-reports about the use of Lean and facilitators and barriers to move from pilot to larger scale applications. Of 20 eligible patients recruited over 3 months, 10 agreed to participate and 9 engaged fully (45%); 106 patients were controls. Relative to controls, outcomes and process measures improved but lacked significance. Practice members identified barriers that prevented implementation of all changes needed but were in agreement that the pilot produced useful outcomes. A systematized, population-based, chronic care management service is feasible in a busy primary care practice. To test at scale, practice leadership will need to allocate staffing, invest in shared documentation, and standardize workflows to streamline office practice responsibilities.