Currently, there is a strong focus on the diffusion and implementation of indicator-based technologies for assessing and improving the quality of care in general practice. The aim of this study was to explore how and for what purposes indicator-based feedback is used by the general practitioners (GPs) and how they perceive it to contribute to their work.
Qualitative interviews with nine GPs in two regions in Denmark. The main selection criterion was that the informants had experience with retrieving electronic feedback. The data generation was explorative and open-ended and the analysis took an iterative approach with continuous refinement of themes that emerged from the data.
The study identified two main uses of feedback: i) Administration of a regular disease control schedule for patients with chronic disease and ii) Routine monitoring of outcomes for purposes of resource prioritisation and medication management. Both uses were deemed valuable by the GPs, but also as an additional extra to the clinical core task. All the GPs experienced the feedback to be of limited relevance to the most central and challenging aspects of clinical work understood as the care for individuals. This led to different reactions: Some GPs would use the feedback as a point of departure for broader deliberations about individual patient needs and treatment approaches. For others, the perceived limitations decreased their overall motivation to seek feedback.
The study points to the importance of clarifying limitations as well as possibilities with respect to different aspects of clinical quality when introducing indicator-based technologies to practitioners. The results also emphasize that an indicator-based approach to quality improvement should not stand alone in general practice since some of the most central and challenging aspects of clinical work are not covered by this approach.
Cites: Intern Med J. 2012 May;42(5):569-7422616961