Background: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has led the industry in measuring facility performance as a critical element in improving quality of care, investing substantial resources to develop and maintain valid and cost-effective measures. The External Peer Review Program (EPRP) of the VA is the official data source for monitoring facility performance, used to prioritize the quality areas needing most attention. Facility performance measurement has significantly improved preventive and chronic care, as well as overall quality; however, much variability still exists in levels of performance across measures and facilities. Audit and feedback (A&F), an important component of effective performance measurement, can help reduce this variability and improve overall performance. Previous research suggests that VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) with high EPRP performance scores tend to use EPRP data as a feedback source. However, the manner in which EPRP data are used as a feedback source by individual providers as well as service line, facility, and network leadership is not well understood. An in-depth understanding of mental models, strategies, and specific feedback process characteristics adopted by high-performing facilities is thus urgently needed.This research compares how leaders of high, low, and moderately performing VAMCs use clinical performance data from the EPRP as a feedback tool to maintain and improve quality of care.
Methods: We will conduct a qualitative, grounded theory analysis of up to 64 interviews using a novel method of sampling primary care, facility, and Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) leadership at high-, moderate-, and low-performing facilities. We will analyze interviews for evidence of cross-facility differences in perceptions of performance data usefulness and strategies for disseminating performance data evaluating performance, with particular attention to timeliness, individualization, and punitiveness of feedback delivery.
Discussion: Most research examining feedback to improve provider and facility performance lacks a detailed understanding of the elements of effective feedback. This research will highlight the elements most commonly used at high-performing facilities and identify additional features of their successful feedback strategies not previously identified. Armed with this information, practices can implement more effective A&F interventions to improve quality of care.