Improving quality improvement capacity and clinical performance in small primary care practices

Katie F. Coleman, Chloe Krakauer, Melissa Anderson, Leann Michaels, David A. Dorr, Lyle J. Fagnan, Clarissa Hsu, Michael L. Parchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


PURPOSE We undertook a study to assess whether implementing 7 evidence-based strategies to build improvement capacity within smaller primary care practices was associated with changes in performance on clinical quality measures (CQMs) for cardiovascular disease. METHODS A total of 209 practices across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho partic-ipated in a pragmatic clinical trial that focused on building quality improvement capacity as measured by a validated questionnaire, the 12-point Quality Improvement Capacity Assessment (QICA). Clinics reported performance on 3 cardiovascular CQMs—appropriate aspirin use, blood pressure (BP) control (<140/90 mm Hg), and smoking screening/cessation counseling—at baseline (2015) and follow-up (2017). Regression analyses with change in CQM as the dependent variable allowed for clustering by practice facilitator and adjusted for baseline CQM performance. RESULTS Practices improved QICA scores by 1.44 points (95% CI, 1.20-1.68; P <.001) from an average baseline of 6.45. All 3 CQMs also improved: aspirin use by 3.98% (average baseline = 66.8%; 95% CI for change, 1.17%-6.79%; P =.006); BP control by 3.36% (average baseline = 61.5%; 95% CI for change, 1.44%-5.27%; P =.001); and tobacco screening/cessation counseling by 7.49% (average baseline = 73.8%; 95% CI for change, 4.21%-10.77%; P <.001). Each 1-point increase in QICA score was associated with a 1.25% (95% CI, 0.41%-2.09%, P =.003) improvement in BP control; the estimated likelihood of reaching a 70% BP control performance goal was 1.24 times higher (95% CI, 1.09-1.40; P <.001) for each 1-point increase in QICA. CONCLUSIONS Improvements in clinic-level performance on BP control may be attributed to implementation of 7 evidence-based strategies to build quality improvement capacity. These strategies were feasible to implement in small practices over 15 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-506
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of family medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • AHRQ
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Clinical quality measure
  • Evidence-based practice
  • EvidenceNOW
  • Healthy Hearts Northwest study
  • High-leverage change
  • Organizational innovation
  • Practice facilitation
  • Preventive medicine
  • Quality improvement
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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