Do patient-focused programs improve healthcare quality?

A new study addresses the effectiveness of patient-focused programs implemented at hospitals to improve healthcare quality by employing randomized, quality improvement projects.

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'Patient-focused' programs that seek to improve the provision of high-quality healthcare to patients are increasingly implemented across hospitals. Frequently, however, it is difficult to assess how effective these patient-focused schemes are. In a novel study, researchers from New York University's (NYU) Langone Health and School of Medicine (both NY, USA), have employed randomized, quality improvement projects to determine how effectively patient-centered schemes contribute to high-quality healthcare delivery.

Lead study author Leora Horowitz, Director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science at NYU and associate professor in the Departments of Population Health and Medicine, stated: “Unless we study whether what we're doing is working, we cannot allocate the resources that we have most effectively. And that means that we're not necessarily providing the best possible care to our patients.”

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The team implemented randomized quality improvement projects throughout NYU Langone inpatient, outpatient and emergency department services to assess the effectiveness of patient-focused programs at improving patient care after hospitalization, capturing patient-reported outcomes and increasing patient receipt of preventative screening procedures, amongst other focus areas.

One such randomized quality improvement project evaluated the phone scripts employed to remind patients of annual visits. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups, each with a different phone script assigned to it. The scripts were used alternatingly for several weeks.

Key study findings include that shorter scripts for calls to remind patients of annual visit appointments yielded a significantly greater return of patients for these visits.  

The study results allow hospital staff to more informedly allocate their resources to improve the effectiveness of interventions aiming to improve patient healthcare.

Andrew W. Brotman, Senior Vice President and Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs and Strategy at NYU commented: “To fulfill our role as a learning health system, we must demonstrate the agility to adapt or modify any procedure so that it delivers maximum benefit to patients. Dr. Horwitz's work ensures we are allocating staff resources in the most effective manner possible.”


Horwitz LI, Kuznetsova M, Jones SA. Creating a Learning Health System through Rapid-Cycle, Randomized Testing. N Engl J Med. 381; 1175—1179; (2019);

What are patient-focused programs?

Patient-focused programs are aimed at increasing the provision of high quality healthcare care for patients. These programs can involve practices such as personally contacting patients to encourage their arranging follow-up visits, and supplying healthcare providers with electronic health record alerts to prompt timely actions.

What are randomized quality improvement projects?

Randomized quality improvement projects are regularly employed by companies to evaluate the effectiveness of routinely-performed procedures and allow staff to hone these practices to get the most out of them.

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Ilana Landau

Assistant Editor, Future Science Group

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