Using the Quadruple Aim Framework to Measure Impact of Heath Technology Implementation: A Case Study of eConsult

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Abstract

Background:

Health technology solutions are too often implemented without a true understanding of the system-level problem they seek to address, resulting in excessive costs, poor adoption, ineffectiveness, and ultimately failure. Before implementing or adopting health care innovations, stakeholders should complete a thorough assessment to ensure effectiveness and value. In this article, we describe how to evaluate the impact of a health technology innovation through the 4 dimensions of care outlined by the Quadruple Aim Framework, using our experience with the Champlain Building Access to Specialists through eConsultation (BASE) eConsult service as a case example.

Methods:

A descriptive overview of data was collected between April 1, 2011, and August 31, 2017, using 4 dimensions of care outlined by the Quadruple Aim Framework: patient experience, provider experience, costs, and population health. Findings were drawn from use data, primary care provider closeout surveys, surveys/interviews with patients and provider, and costing data.

Results:

Overall, patients have received access to specialist advice within days and find the advice useful in 86% of cases. Provider experience is very positive, with satisfaction ratings of high/very high value in 94% of cases. The service cost a weighted average of $47.35/case, compared with $133.60/case for traditional referrals. In total, 1,299 primary care providers have enrolled in the service, completing 28,838 cases since 2011. Monthly case volumes have grown from an average of 13 cases/month in 2011 to 969 cases/month in 2016.

Conclusions:

The eConsult service has been widely adopted in our region and is currently expanding to new jurisdictions across Canada. However, although we successfully demonstrated eConsult's impact on patient experience, provider satisfaction, and reducing costs, we met several challenges in evaluating its impact on population health. More work is needed to evaluate eConsult's impact on key population health metrics (eg, mortality, morbidity, and system use). Efforts to conduct such evaluations are underway.

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