The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has undertaken primary care transformation based on patient-centered medical home (PCMH) tenets. VHA PCMH models are designed for the predominantly male Veteran population, and require tailoring to meet women Veterans' needs. We used evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI), a stakeholder-driven implementation strategy, in a cluster randomized controlled trial across 12 sites (eight EBQI, four control) that are members of a Practice-Based Research Network. EBQI involves engaging multilevel, inter-professional leaders and staff as stakeholders in reviewing evidence and setting QI priorities. The goal of this analysis was to examine processes of engaging stakeholders in early implementation of EBQI to tailor VHA's medical home for women. Four inter-professional regional stakeholder planning meetings were conducted; these meetings engaged stakeholders by providing regional data about gender disparities in Veterans' care experiences. Subsequent to each meeting, qualitative interviews were conducted with 87 key stakeholders (leaders and staff). Stakeholders were asked to describe QI efforts and the use of data to change aspects of care, including women's health care. Interview transcripts were summarized and coded using a hybrid deductive/inductive analytic approach. The presentation of regional-level data about gender disparities resulted in heightened awareness and stakeholder buy-in and decision-making related to women's health-focused QI. Interviews revealed that stakeholders were familiar with QI, with regional and facility leaders aware of inter-disciplinary committees and efforts to foster organizational change, including PCMH transformation. These efforts did not typically focus on women's health, though some informal efforts had been undertaken. Barriers to engaging in QI included lack of communication across clinical service lines, fluidity in staffing, and lack of protected time. Inter-professional, multilevel stakeholders need to be engaged in implementation early, with data and discussion that convey the importance and relevance of a new initiative. Stakeholder perspectives on institutional norms (e.g., gender norms) and readiness for population-specific QI are useful drivers of clinical initiatives designed to transform care for clinical subpopulations.
Keywords: Evidence-based quality improvement; Implementation; Primary care; Stakeholder engagement; Veterans health administration; women’s health.