1From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.
2Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.
Objectives: Incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is increasing in women of reproductive age, leading to increased prevalence of HCV infection in children via vertical transmission. This quality improvement (QI) project aimed to increase referrals to and appointments scheduled with a specialty pediatric gastroenterology HCV clinic and the number of eligible children with HCV who completed treatment.
Methods: From July 2020 to August 2021, the QI team designed a project using the Model for Improvement and completed Plan Do Study Act cycles to test change ideas to improve HCV awareness and education for medical providers and families; standardize the referral process; track patients; increase clinic capacity; and connect families with community resource care coordination. Referrals to the pediatric HCV clinic, appointments scheduled, no shows, and treatment follow-up were tracked during the project period and a comparison timeframe from July 2019 to June 2020.
Results: There were improvements in several measures during the project period versus the comparison timeframe, with 80 versus 48 referrals received (66% increase), 115 versus 59 scheduled clinic visits (95% increase), and 7 versus 5 treatment completers (40% increase), along with a small (7%) decline in the proportion of scheduled clinic visits that were no shows.
Conclusion: Application of QI methodology increased medical provider and caregiver awareness and engagement in accessing HCV healthcare available for at-risk children. More QI efforts should be accelerated to identify best practices amidst a nationwide HCV epidemic.