Publications

    Garcia Elorrio Ezequiel, Arrieta Jafet, Arce Hugo, Delgado Pedro, Malik Ana Maria, Orrego Villagran Carola, Rincon Sofia, Sarabia Odet, Tono Teresa, Hermida Jorge, and Ruelas Barajas Enrique. 2021. “The COVID-19 pandemic: A call to action for health systems in Latin America to strengthen quality of care.” Int J Qual Health Care, 33, 1.Abstract
    The Covid-19 and other recent pandemics has highlighted existing weakness in health systems across the Latin-America and the Caribbean (LAC) region to effectively prepare for and respond to Public Health Emergencies. It has been stated that quality of care will be among the most influential factors on Covid 19 mortality rates and low systems performance is the common case in these countries. More comprehensive and system level strategies are required to address the challenges. These must focus on redesigning and strengthening health systems to make them more resilient to the changing needs of populations and based on quality improvement methods that have shown rigorously evaluated positive effects in previous local and regional experiences. A call to action is being made by the Latin American Consortium for Quality, Patient Safety and Innovation (CLICSS) and they provide specific recommendations for decision makers.
    Jeffrey Braithwaite, Charles Vincent, Ezequiel Garcia-Elorrio, Yuichi Imanaka, Wendy Nicklin, Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, and David W Bates. 2020. “Transformational improvement in quality care and health systems: the next decade.” BMC Med, 18, 1, Pp. 340.Abstract
    BACKGROUND: Healthcare is amongst the most complex of human systems. Coordinating activities and integrating newer with older ways of treating patients while delivering high-quality, safe care, is challenging. Three landmark reports in 2018 led by (1) the Lancet Global Health Commission, (2) a coalition of the World Health Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank, and (3) the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine of the United States propose that health systems need to tackle care quality, create less harm and provide universal health coverage in all nations, but especially low- and middle-income countries. The objective of this study is to review these reports with the aim of advancing the discussion beyond a conceptual diagnosis of quality gaps into identification of practical opportunities for transforming health systems by 2030. MAIN BODY: We analysed the reports via text-mining techniques and content analyses to derive their key themes and concepts. Initiatives to make progress include better measurement, using the capacities of information and communications technologies, taking a systems view of change, supporting systems to be constantly improving, creating learning health systems and undergirding progress with effective research and evaluation. Our analysis suggests that the world needs to move from 2018, the year of reports, to the 2020s, the decade of action. We propose three initiatives to support this move: first, developing a blueprint for change, modifiable to each country's circumstances, to give effect to the reports' recommendations; second, to make tangible steps to reduce inequities within and across health systems, including redistributing resources to areas of greatest need; and third, learning from what goes right to complement current efforts focused on reducing things going wrong. We provide examples of targeted funding which would have major benefits, reduce inequalities, promote universality and be better at learning from successes as well as failures. CONCLUSION: The reports contain many recommendations, but lack an integrated, implementable, 10-year action plan for the next decade to give effect to their aims to improve care to the most vulnerable, save lives by providing high-quality healthcare and shift to measuring and ensuring better systems- and patient-level outcomes. This article signals what needs to be done to achieve these aims.
    Ezequiel Garcia-Elorrio, Samantha Y Rowe, Maria E Teijeiro, Agustín Ciapponi, and Alexander K Rowe. 2019. “The effectiveness of the quality improvement collaborative strategy in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” PLoS One, 14, 10, Pp. e0221919.Abstract
    BACKGROUND: Quality improvement collaboratives (QICs) have been used to improve health care for decades. Evidence on QIC effectiveness has been reported, but systematic reviews to date have little information from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of QICs in LMICs. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review following Cochrane methods, the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach for quality of evidence grading, and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) statement for reporting. We searched published and unpublished studies between 1969 and March 2019 from LMICs. We included papers that compared usual practice with QICs alone or combined with other interventions. Pairs of reviewers independently selected and assessed the risk of bias and extracted data of included studies. To estimate strategy effectiveness from a single study comparison, we used the median effect size (MES) in the comparison for outcomes in the same outcome group. The primary analysis evaluated each strategy group with a weighted median and interquartile range (IQR) of MES values. In secondary analyses, standard random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate the weighted mean MES and 95% confidence interval (CI) of the mean MES of each strategy group. This review is registered with PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews): CRD42017078108. RESULTS: Twenty-nine studies were included; most (21/29, 72.4%) were interrupted time series studies. Evidence quality was generally low to very low. Among studies involving health facility-based health care providers (HCPs), for "QIC only", effectiveness varied widely across outcome groups and tended to have little effect for patient health outcomes (median MES less than 2 percentage points for percentage and continuous outcomes). For "QIC plus training", effectiveness might be very high for patient health outcomes (for continuous outcomes, median MES 111.6 percentage points, range: 96.0 to 127.1) and HCP practice outcomes (median MES 52.4 to 63.4 percentage points for continuous and percentage outcomes, respectively). The only study of lay HCPs, which used "QIC plus training", showed no effect on patient care-seeking behaviors (MES -0.9 percentage points), moderate effects on non-care-seeking patient behaviors (MES 18.7 percentage points), and very large effects on HCP practice outcomes (MES 50.4 percentage points). CONCLUSIONS: The effectiveness of QICs varied considerably in LMICs. QICs combined with other invention components, such as training, tended to be more effective than QICs alone. The low evidence quality and large effect sizes for QIC plus training justify additional high-quality studies assessing this approach in LMICs.
    Hannah L Ratcliffe, Dan Schwarz, Lisa R Hirschhorn, Cintia Cejas, Abdoulaye Diallo, Ezequiel Garcia Elorrio, Jocelyn Fifield, Diane Gashumba, Lucy Hartshorn, Nicholas Leydon, Mohamed Mohamed, Yoriko Nakamura, Youssoupha Ndiaye, Jacob Novignon, Anthony Ofosu, Sanam Roder-DeWan, Angelique Rwiyereka, Federica Secci, Jeremy H Veillard, and Asaf Bitton. 2019. “PHC Progression Model: a novel mixed-methods tool for measuring primary health care system capacity.” BMJ Glob Health, 4, 5, Pp. e001822.Abstract
    High-performing primary health care (PHC) is essential for achieving universal health coverage. However, in many countries, PHC is weak and unable to deliver on its potential. Improvement is often limited by a lack of actionable data to inform policies and set priorities. To address this gap, the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative (PHCPI) was formed to strengthen measurement of PHC in low-income and middle-income countries in order to accelerate improvement. PHCPI's Vital Signs Profile was designed to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the performance of a country's PHC system, yet quantitative information about PHC systems' capacity to deliver high-quality, effective care was limited by the scarcity of existing data sources and metrics. To systematically measure the capacity of PHC systems, PHCPI developed the PHC Progression Model, a rubric-based mixed-methods assessment tool. The PHC Progression Model is completed through a participatory process by in-country teams and subsequently reviewed by PHCPI to validate results and ensure consistency across countries. In 2018, PHCPI partnered with five countries to pilot the tool and found that it was feasible to implement with fidelity, produced valid results, and was highly acceptable and useful to stakeholders. Pilot results showed that both the participatory assessment process and resulting findings yielded novel and actionable insights into PHC strengths and weaknesses. Based on these positive early results, PHCPI will support expansion of the PHC Progression Model to additional countries to systematically and comprehensively measure PHC system capacity in order to identify and prioritise targeted improvement efforts.
    Nana Mensah Abrampah, Shamsuzzoha Babar Syed, Lisa R Hirschhorn, Bejoy Nambiar, Usman Iqbal, Ezequiel Garcia-Elorrio, Vijay Kumar Chattu, Mahesh Devnani, and Edward Kelley. 2018. “Quality improvement and emerging global health priorities.” Int J Qual Health Care, 30, suppl_1, Pp. 5-9.Abstract
    Quality improvement approaches can strengthen action on a range of global health priorities. Quality improvement efforts are uniquely placed to reorient care delivery systems towards integrated people-centred health services and strengthen health systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This article makes the case for addressing shortfalls of previous agendas by articulating the critical role of quality improvement in the Sustainable Development Goal era. Quality improvement can stimulate convergence between health security and health systems; address global health security priorities through participatory quality improvement approaches; and improve health outcomes at all levels of the health system. Entry points for action include the linkage with antimicrobial resistance and the contentious issue of the health of migrants. The work required includes focussed attention on the continuum of national quality policy formulation, implementation and learning; alongside strengthening the measurement-improvement linkage. Quality improvement plays a key role in strengthening health systems to achieve UHC.
    Frederico Guanais, Svetlana V Doubova, Hannah H Leslie, Ricardo Perez-Cuevas, Ezequiel García-Elorrio, and Margaret E Kruk. 2018. “Patient-centered primary care and self-rated health in 6 Latin American and Caribbean countries: Analysis of a public opinion cross-sectional survey.” PLoS Med, 15, 10, Pp. e1002673.Abstract
    BACKGROUND: Despite the substantial attention to primary care (PC), few studies have addressed the relationship between patients' experience with PC and their health status in low-and middle-income countries. This study aimed to (1) test the association between overall patient-centered PC experience (OPCE) and self-rated health (SRH) and (2) identify specific features of patient-centered PC associated with better SRH (i.e., excellent or very good SRH) in 6 Latin American and Caribbean countries. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a secondary analysis of a 2013 public opinion cross-sectional survey on perceptions and experiences with healthcare systems in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, and Panama; the data were nationally representative for urban populations. We analyzed 9 features of patient-centered PC. We calculated OPCE score as the arithmetic mean of the PC features. OPCE score ranged from 0 to 1, where 0 meant that the participant did not have any of the 9 patient-centered PC experiences, while 1 meant that he/she reported having all these experiences. After testing for interaction on the additive scale, we analyzed countries pooled for aim 1, with an interaction term for Mexico, and each country separately for aim 2. We used multiple Poisson regression models double-weighted by survey and inverse probability weights to deal with the survey design and missing data. The study included 6,100 participants. The percentage of participants with excellent or very good SRH ranged from 29.5% in Mexico to 52.4% in Jamaica. OPCE was associated with reporting excellent or very good SRH in all countries: adjusting for socio-demographic and health covariates, patients with an OPCE score of 1 in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, and Panama were more likely to report excellent or very good SRH than those with a score of 0 (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 1.61, 95% CI 1.37-1.90, p < 0.001); in Mexico, this association was even stronger (aPR 4.27, 95% CI 2.34-7.81, p < 0.001). The specific features of patient-centered PC associated with better SRH differed by country. The perception that PC providers solve most health problems was associated with excellent or very good SRH in Colombia (aPR 1.38, 95% CI 1.01-1.91, p = 0.046) and Jamaica (aPR 1.21, 95% CI 1.02-1.43, p = 0.030). Having a provider who knows relevant medical history was positively associated with better SRH in Mexico (aPR 1.47, 95% CI 1.03-2.12, p = 0.036) but was negatively associated with better SRH in Brazil (aPR 0.71, 95% CI 0.56-0.89, p = 0.003). Finally, easy contact with PC facility (Mexico: aPR 1.35, 95% CI 1.04-1.74, p = 0.023), coordination of care (Mexico: aPR 1.53, 95% CI 1.19-1.98, p = 0.001), and opportunity to ask questions (Brazil: aPR 1.42, 95% CI 1.11-1.83, p = 0.006) were each associated with better SRH. The main study limitation consists in the analysis being of cross-sectional data, which does not allow making causal inferences or identifying the direction of the association between the variables. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, a higher OPCE score was associated with better SRH in these 6 Latin American and Caribbean countries; associations between specific characteristics of patient-centered PC and SRH differed by country. The findings underscore the importance of high-quality, patient-centered PC as a path to improved population health.
    Rohit Ramaswamy, Julie Reed, Nigel Livesley, Victor Boguslavsky, Ezequiel Garcia-Elorrio, Sylvia Sax, Diarra Houleymata, Leighann Kimble, and Gareth Parry. 2018. “Unpacking the black box of improvement.” Int J Qual Health Care, 30, suppl_1, Pp. 15-19.Abstract
    During the Salzburg Global Seminar Session 565-'Better Health Care: How do we learn about improvement?', participants discussed the need to unpack the 'black box' of improvement. The 'black box' refers to the fact that when quality improvement interventions are described or evaluated, there is a tendency to assume a simple, linear path between the intervention and the outcomes it yields. It is also assumed that it is enough to evaluate the results without understanding the process of by which the improvement took place. However, quality improvement interventions are complex, nonlinear and evolve in response to local settings. To accurately assess the effectiveness of quality improvement and disseminate the learning, there must be a greater understanding of the complexity of quality improvement work. To remain consistent with the language used in Salzburg, we refer to this as 'unpacking the black box' of improvement. To illustrate the complexity of improvement, this article introduces four quality improvement case studies. In unpacking the black box, we present and demonstrate how Cynefin framework from complexity theory can be used to categorize and evaluate quality improvement interventions. Many quality improvement projects are implemented in complex contexts, necessitating an approach defined as 'probe-sense-respond'. In this approach, teams experiment, learn and adapt their changes to their local setting. Quality improvement professionals intuitively use the probe-sense-respond approach in their work but document and evaluate their projects using language for 'simple' or 'complicated' contexts, rather than the 'complex' contexts in which they work. As a result, evaluations tend to ask 'How can we attribute outcomes to the intervention?', rather than 'What were the adaptations that took place?'. By unpacking the black box of improvement, improvers can more accurately document and describe their interventions, allowing evaluators to ask the right questions and more adequately evaluate quality improvement interventions.
    Lisa R Hirschhorn, Rohit Ramaswamy, Mahesh Devnani, Abraham Wandersman, Lisa A Simpson, and Ezequiel Garcia-Elorrio. 2018. “Research versus practice in quality improvement? Understanding how we can bridge the gap.” Int J Qual Health Care, 30, suppl_1, Pp. 24-28.Abstract
    The gap between implementers and researchers of quality improvement (QI) has hampered the degree and speed of change needed to reduce avoidable suffering and harm in health care. Underlying causes of this gap include differences in goals and incentives, preferred methodologies, level and types of evidence prioritized and targeted audiences. The Salzburg Global Seminar on 'Better Health Care: How do we learn about improvement?' brought together researchers, policy makers, funders, implementers, evaluators from low-, middle- and high-income countries to explore how to increase the impact of QI. In this paper, we describe some of the reasons for this gap and offer suggestions to better bridge the chasm between researchers and implementers. Effectively bridging this gap can increase the generalizability of QI interventions, accelerate the spread of effective approaches while also strengthening the local work of implementers. Increasing the effectiveness of research and work in the field will support the knowledge translation needed to achieve quality Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.