Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa - Online First: 2019-09-08
Rheuma SPACE - Standard Practice Aiming Clinical Excellence: description of the methodological approach
ResumoBackground: Quality of care is a key component of the right to health, and the route to equity and dignity. The aim of the project Rheuma SPACE - Standard Practice Aiming Clinical Excellence was to develop a set of quality indicators focused in rheumatoid arthritis care and apply them to rheumatology departments of the Portuguese National Health Service in order to benchmark the care for these patients. This article details the methodology that was applied.
Methodology: This was a single country, three-phase project, each phase comprising multiple steps. The first step defined quality indicators and the excellence quality model to be used. It involved a literature search for international benchmarking of quality of care initiatives and indicators, followed by a pre-selection of an initial set of indicators. The set of indicators was latter on narrowed after an online Delphi round with all Portuguese rheumatologists and two consensus meetings involving the study task force. A set of 26 quality indicators was defined, within the three classic Donabedian dimensions of healthcare quality: Structure (9), Processes (11), and Outcomes (6). These indicators cover eleven domains of quality of care: personnel and organizational structure, training and research, facilities, equipment and information technology, budgeting and financial resources, access to care, clinical records, patient communication, multidisciplinary management, clinical outcomes, and patient and personnel satisfaction. Decision on quality and excellence thresholds for each of the 26 quality indicators was agreed upon a consensus meeting gathering principal investigators of the eight Rheumatology Departments that decided to participate, task force core set members and invited representatives of all Portuguese Departments/Units. Rheumatoid arthritis was the chosen disease model of the project based on the reliability of the outcomes to be measured in the context of this condition. The second step was the assessment of the participating Rheumatology Departments. During eighteen months, research teams applied the 26 quality indicators to their own Departments. The third step comprised data analysis and the elaboration of individual Rheumatology Department reports and of a global public report.
Results: Eight Departments, comprising 80 specialists, 20 residents and 30 nurses, covering 5.904.080 inhabitants, underwent quality evaluation. More than one thousand patients (1,325) and 113 health professionals’ surveys were analysed, as well as data from 570 clinical records and 3,927 medical appointments on rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Discussion: 26 quality indicators were used for the first evaluation of Portuguese Rheumatology Departments, turning Rheuma SPACE into a pioneer project. Data analysis and benchmarking will be the subject of a further publication.