Purpose: This article considers the question if measurable improvements are achieved in the quality of care in stroke services by using a Breakthrough collaborative quality improvement model.
Context of case: Despite the availability of explicit criteria, evidence based guidelines, national protocols and examples of best practices; stroke care in the Netherlands did not improve substantially yet. For that reason a national collaborative started in 2002 to improve integrated stroke care in 23 self selected stroke services.
Data sources: Characteristics of sites, teams, aims and changes were assessed by using a questionnaire and monthly self-reports of teams. Progress in achieving significant quality improvement has been assessed on a five point Likert scale (IHI score).
Case description: The stroke services (n=23) formed multidisciplinary teams, which worked together in a collaborative based on the IHI Breakthrough Series Model. Teams received instruction in quality improvement, reviewed self reported performance data, identified bottlenecks and improvement goals, and implemented "potentially better practices" based on criteria from the Edisse study, evidence based guidelines, own ideas and expert opinion.
Conclusion and discussion: Quality of care has been improved in most participating stroke services. Eighty-seven percent of the teams have improved their care significantly on at least one topic. About 34% of the teams have achieved significant improvement on all aims within the time frame of the project. The project has contributed to the further development and spread of integrated stroke care in the Netherlands.