Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Sep 26;9(10):1267. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9101267.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Much of the disease burden comes from exacerbations requiring hospitalization. Unwarranted care variation and divergence from evidence-based COPD management guidelines among hospitalists is a leading driver of the poor outcomes and excess costs associated with COPD-related hospitalizations. We engaged with Novant Health hospitalists to determine if measurement and feedback using fixed-choice simulated patients improves evidence-based care delivery and reduces costs. We created a series of gamified acute-care COPD case simulations with real-time feedback over 16 weeks then performed a year-over-year analytic comparison of the cost, length of stay (LOS), and revisits over the six months prior to the introduction of the simulated patients, the four months while caring for the simulated patients, and the six months after. In total, 245 hospitalists from 15 facilities at Novant Health participated. At baseline, the overall quality-of-care was measured as 58.4% + 12.3%, with providers correctly identifying COPD exacerbation in 92.4% of cases but only identifying the grade and group in 61.9% and 49.5% of cases, respectively. By the study end, the quality-of-care had improved 10.5% (p < 0.001), including improvements in identifying the grade (+9.7%, p = 0.044) and group (+8.4%, p = 0.098). These improvements correlated with changes in real-world performance data, including a 19% reduction in COPD-related pharmacy costs. Overall, the annualized impact of COPD improvements led to 233 fewer inpatient days, 371 fewer revisit days, and inpatient savings totaling nearly $1 million. Engaging practicing providers with patient simulation-based serial measurements and gamified evidence-based feedback potentially reduces inpatient costs while simultaneously reducing patient LOS and revisit rates.