A Quality Initiative to Improve Appropriate Use of Initial Outpatient Echocardiography Among Pediatric Cardiologists

Erik L Frandsen, Soultana Kourtidou, Joel S Tieder, Erin Alberda, Brian D Soriano
Pediatric Quality & Safety 2020, 5 (4): e313

Introduction: Appropriate use criteria (AUC) guide initial transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) use in outpatient pediatrics. We sought to improve pediatric cardiologist TTE ordering appropriateness (mean AUC score) with a quality improvement initiative.

Methods: The outcome of interest was the prospective AUC score for all initial outpatient TTEs ordered between November 2016 and August 2017, categorized per the AUC: "appropriate" (score 7-9), "may be appropriate" (4-6), "rarely appropriate" (1-3). Interventions included a didactic review of 2014 AUC and participant documentation of AUC criteria for each TTE. Participants met quarterly to evaluate outcome, process, and balancing measures, intervention effectiveness, and to identify and mitigate barriers.

Results: Twenty-two pediatric cardiologists participated. TTE appropriateness level before (n = 216) and after (n = 557) intervention was high. There was no significant difference in mean baseline and post-intervention AUC score (7.42 ± 1.87 versus 7.16 ± 2.87, P = 0.1), nor in TTE sensitivity (27% versus 25%, P > 0.1) as a balancing measure. Among baseline studies, 81% were "appropriate," and 6% "rarely appropriate." Among post-intervention studies, 76% were "appropriate," and 11% "rarely appropriate." Barriers identified to implementing AUC include TTE indications not specified by current AUC, expectations of referring provider or parent to perform TTE, consistent provider application of AUC, and ability of AUC to capture comprehensive clinical judgment.

Conclusions: Although the mean AUC appropriateness level was high, we were able to identify significant barriers to the implementation of AUC. Future efforts should focus on the reduction of "rarely appropriate" TTE ordering.

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