Objective: To describe the systems strategies used to reduce failures in delivery of breast and cervical cancer screening services in HMOs with high performance rates for these services.
Study design: Multiple case study.
Participants and methods: Seven HMOs participated in an assessment of their breast and cervical cancer screening policies and procedures. Current clinical practice guidelines were analyzed, and key informants were interviewed about organizational policies and procedures that ensure initial screening and follow-up of abnormal results. Data were analyzed across plans for several theoretically relevant domains, including leadership and policies, clinical decision support, delivery system design, clinical information systems, and patient self-management support.
Results: Practice guidelines were fundamentally similar across plans for both cancer screenings, although operationalization of risk and formatting of the written documents differed. These plans adopted a wide array of strategies, particularly in the clinical decision support, clinical information systems, and patient self-management support domains, but there is room for improvement. Differences among plans and between strategies for breast and cervical cancer screening provide new understanding of how to approach this problem.
Conclusions: Organizations seeking to improve performance of breast and cervical cancer screening should consider multiple strategies aimed at multiple targets and should ensure that strategies used for one type of cancer are considered for others.