Information system support as a critical success factor for chronic disease management: Necessary but not sufficient

Carolyn J Green, Patricia Fortin, Malcolm Maclure, Art Macgregor, Sylvia Robinson
International Journal of Medical Informatics 2006, 75 (12): 818-28

UNLABELLED: Improvement of chronic disease management in primary care entails monitoring indicators of quality over time and across patients and practices. Informatics tools are needed, yet implementing them remains challenging.

OBJECTIVE: To identify critical success factors enabling the translation of clinical and operational knowledge about effective and efficient chronic care management into primary care practice.

DESIGN: A prospective case study of positive deviants using key informant interviews, process observation, and document review.

SETTING: A chronic disease management (CDM) collaborative of primary care physicians with documented improvement in adherence to clinical practice guidelines using a web-based patient registry system with CDM guideline-based flow sheet.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirty community-based physician participants using predominantly paper records, plus a project management team including the physician lead, project manager, evaluator and support team.

ANALYSIS: A critical success factor (CSF) analysis of necessary and sufficient pathways to the translation of knowledge into clinical practice.

RESULTS: A web-based CDM 'toolkit' was found to be a direct CSF that allowed this group of physicians to improve their practice by tracking patient care processes using evidence-based clinical practice guideline-based flow sheets. Moreover, the information and communication technology 'factor' was sufficient for success only as part of a set of seven direct CSF components including: health delivery system enhancements, organizational partnerships, funding mechanisms, project management, practice models, and formal knowledge translation practices. Indirect factors that orchestrated success through the direct factor components were also identified. A central insight of this analysis is that a comprehensive quality improvement model was the CSF that drew this set of factors into a functional framework for successful knowledge translation.

CONCLUSIONS: In complex primary care settings environment where physicians have low adoption rates of electronic tools to support the care of patients with chronic conditions, successful implementation may require a set of interrelated system and technology factors.

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