Patient-Centered HIV Care in Delaware

Patient-Centered HIV Care in Delaware

June 1, 2011
3 staff people

Poor health outcomes occur when patients don't show up for medical appointments or find it hard to follow medication schedules. Poor adherence invariably leads to treatment failure, viral resistance, and related infections. Adherence can be particularly hard for patients who are dealing with additional problems such as mental illness, substance abuse, and low income. Studies indicate that HIV treatment programs can experience a 15 percent lost-to-follow up rate each year. For some programs, the rate is as high as 30 percent.

The HIV Program at the Christiana Care Health System in Delaware made changes in how they organize and deliver HIV/AIDS care in order to address these problems. Their data show it made a difference:

  • Adherence rates went up (for kept appointments and taking medications on schedule).
  • Viral loads and deaths went down.

These findings are summarized in their 2010 Ryan White Grantee Meeting poster session: winner of the Innovation in Research Award. This is how they did it.

Program Innovation

The Christiana Care Health System's HIV Program participated in an Institute for Healthcare Improvement Collaborative to improve clinical outcomes for patients infected with HIV utilizing the Chronic Care Model as a foundation for quality improvement strategies. Their multi-disciplinary and patient-centered approach to care delivery is designed to enhance the care connection between patients and providers. The approach involves these key ingredients:

  • Patient self-management program. Christiana Care offers a "positive self-management program," based on Stanford University's Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which teaches patients strategies for managing their chronic conditions. The premise is that patients who understand their illness, its implications, and appropriate symptom management can talk more effectively with their clinicians. As a result, they can achieve better clinical outcomes. Sessions focus on goal-setting/achievement and the development of action plans. These plans cover topics such as life skills, disclosure of HIV status, stress management, the need for exercise, healthy eating habits, and managing medication side effects.
  • Medication adherence program. A clinical pharmacist leads medication adherence sessions with patients before the initiation of treatment and as needed thereafter. These one-on-one appointments allow pharmacists to evaluate a patient's readiness to adhere to his or her regimen. For example, the pharmacist finds out if the patient has a refrigerator and how the patient plans to incorporate the medication regimen into his or her daily life. Patients who have difficulty with medication adherence continue to be seen indefinitely for a weekly "pillbox fill."
  • Onsite services and specialty clinics. Onsite phlebotomy services are provided to patients. Specialists also hold clinics at the HIV program site to provide one-stop, convenient care. Clinics are offered for renal care, general internal medicine, mental health care, hepatitis C treatment, and women's health.
  • "Fast-track" visits. Fast-track visits are available for stable patients, thereby reducing waiting times. Patients arriving at the clinic receive their usual intake assessment by a nurse. Those found to be stable and taking their medications are triaged to a nurse practitioner, who provides basic care and assessment.
  • Telephone reminders and follow up. Front-office staff place reminder calls to all patients several days before scheduled appointments. If a patient misses an appointment, staff members call the patient the next day to reschedule. If the patient cannot be reached by telephone after numerous attempts, the office will mail an appointment reminder. Clinicians tag the files of high-risk patients, spurring more aggressive telephone/mail follow up with these individuals.
  • Peer educators. Three full-time peer educators serve the seven sites. Peer educators are patients who are managing their disease successfully and who have an interest in counseling others. Peer educators provide basic education and support during informal meetings with other patients (often held in the waiting room), offering information about HIV, medications, side effects, and lifestyle issues.
  • Patient advisory groups. Three patient advisory groups (one located in each Delaware county) offer patients the opportunity to have direct input into HIV program development and evaluation. Meetings are co-facilitated by a patient and an HIV program staff member. Members of each group set their own meeting schedules, agendas, and rules of conduct.

Christiana Care

Christiana delivers care through seven sites and is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS care in Delaware. The program provides care to approximately 1,600 patients per year, which is about 60 percent of all patients with HIV receiving care in the state. The program and its patients receive support from Ryan White Parts B (including ADAP), C, D, and F. Most patients are insured through Medicaid or Medicare, although some have private insurance and some are uninsured.

Delaware's Christiana Care Health System's HIV Program has a comprehensive, patient-centered approach to care delivery that assists patients living with HIV to maintain their health. The program includes a variety of strategies to support comprehensive care, encourage patients to take responsibility for their own health, and help patients remain connected to their providers to enhance adherence. Strategies include:

  • Visit reminder calls
  • Follow up calls when visits are missed
  • A patient self-management program
  • Patient advisory committees
  • Peer educators
  • "Fast-track" visits for stable patients
  • Onsite specialty clinics
  • Pharmacist-run medication adherence program development of client-centered care plans

Pre- and post-implementation comparisons show that the program has increased treatment adherence, improved clinical outcomes, and reduced HIV-related

Chronic Care Model

Christiana Care Health Services employs the Chronic Care Model (CCM) developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the MacColl Institute for Healthcare Innovation. The CCM can be applied to a variety of chronic illnesses, health care settings, and target populations.

The CCM summarizes the six basic elements for improving care in health systems:

  • Self-Management – Patients have the central role in determining their care. Patients learn ways to take responsibility for their own health
  • Decision Support – Treatment decisions are based on proven guidelines. Organizations integrate these guidelines into their providers' day-to-day practices.
  • Delivery System Design – Effective patient care delivery requires that roles and tasks be clarified. Centralized, up-to-date information is known about the patient's status. Follow-up is a standard procedure.
  • Clinical Information System – An information system that can keep track of patients and patient populations is essential for delivering quality health care services
  • Organization of Health Care – Health care systems organize to create an environment where quality care improvement can take hold and grow.
  • Community – Health care organizations form alliances with state and local programs and with other community organizations.