High-quality care delivery for frail older persons, many of whom have multiple complex needs, is among the greatest challenges faced by healthcare systems today. The Chronic Care Model (CCM) may guide quality improvement efforts for primary care delivery to frail older populations. Objectives of this study were to assess the implementation of interventions in CCM dimensions, and to investigate the quality of primary care as perceived by healthcare professionals, in practices following the Finding and Follow-up of Frail older persons (FFF) integrated care approach and those providing usual care.
Structured interviews were conducted with general practitioners (GPs) from 11 intervention practices and 4 control practices to assess the implementation of interventions. A longitudinal survey (12-month period, 2 measurement timepoints) was conducted to assess the quality of primary care as perceived by healthcare professionals (intervention and control GP practices) using the Assessment of Chronic Illness Care Short version (ACIC-S). Independent-samples t-tests were used to assess differences in ACIC-S scores between groups. Interviews were conducted with GPs from the intervention practices to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences with the FFF approach.
Intervention practices implemented significantly more interventions congruent with (dimensions of) the CCM compared with control GP practices. With respect to the quality of primary care as perceived by healthcare professionals, mean ACIC-S scores for all CCM dimensions and overall mean ACIC-S scores were significantly higher in the intervention group than in the control group at the follow-up timepoint. The number of implemented interventions was associated positively with perceived quality of primary care (ACIC-S scores) at follow-up. Important motives of GPs to implement the FFF approach were the aging of the population and transformations in the primary care sector. Proactive care delivery and multidisciplinary collaboration were considered to be essential. Major challenges to the implementation and embedding of the FFF approach were structural financing and manpower, and the availability of a facilitating information and communication technology system.
Our study showed that proactive, integrated care that is based on (elements of) the CCM may be a step forward in improving quality of care for frail older persons.