Background: Effective therapies for reducing mortality rates in persons with coronary heart disease (CHD) remain underused. We report the results of an effectiveness trial of a quality improvement effort to increase the use of 3-hydroxy-3methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase inhibitors, beta-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors in patients with CHD in a network-model managed-care setting.
Methods: Patients with CHD were identified by searching a claims database. The use of therapies was assessed by linkage with a pharmacy database. An intervention, consisting of a guideline summary, peer comparison performance feedback, and patient specific chart reminders was evaluated in a randomized, practice-based effectiveness trial.
Results: Data were available for >700 patients per year (1999-2002) in 131 practices. At baseline (1999), 55% of patients were receiving HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, 39% of patients were receiving beta-blockers, and 24% of patients were receiving ACE inhibitors. The use of all 3 types of medications increased steadily with time, with the exception of a decrease in the use of HMG CoA reductase inhibitors in the final year (2002). No difference in medication use was observed between randomized groups.
Conclusions: The observed pattern of care supports the contention that the quality of outpatient care for secondary prevention of CHD improved from 1999 to 2002 in this setting. The basis for the inconsistent pattern of use of HMG CoA reductase inhibitors is not certain, but may relate to concerns about toxicity. Centralized mailings of guideline summaries, performance feedback reports, and chart reminders had no observable impact on quality of care in this setting. More intensive intervention may be required to improve the quality of outpatient care for the secondary prevention of CHD.