Peer Benchmarking Network May Reduce Overutilization in Pediatric Bronchiolitis


Clinical question: What is the impact of a peer benchmarking network on resource utilization in acute bronchiolitis?

Background: Acute bronchiolitis is the most common illness requiring hospitalization in children. Despite the publication of national evidence-based guidelines, variation and overuse of common therapies remains. Despite one report of successful implementation of evidence-based guidelines in a collaborative of freestanding children’s hospitals, most children are hospitalized outside of such institutions, and large-scale, lower-resource efforts have not been described.

Study design: Voluntary, quality-improvement (QI), and benchmarking collaborative.

Setting: Seventeen hospitals, including both community and freestanding children’s facilities.

Synopsis: Over a four-year period, data on 11,568 bronchiolitis hospitalizations were collected. The collaborative facilitated sharing of resources (e.g. scoring tools, guidelines), celebrated high performers on an annual basis, and encouraged regular data collection, primarily via conference calls and email. Notably, a common bundle of interventions were not used; groups worked on local improvement cycles, with only a few groups forming a small subcollaborative utilizing a shared pathway. A significant decrease in bronchodilator utilization and chest physiotherapy was seen over the course of the collaborative, although no change in chest radiography, steroid utilization, and RSV testing was noted.

This voluntary and low-resource effort by similarly motivated peers across a variety of inpatient settings demonstrated improvement over time. It is particularly notable as inpatient collaboratives with face-to-face meeting requirements, and annual fees, become more commonplace.

Study limitations include the lack of a conceptual model for studying contextual factors that might have led to improvement in the varied settings and secular changes over this time period. Additionally, EDs were not included in this initiative, which likely accounted for the lack of improvement in chest radiography and RSV testing. Nonetheless, scalable innovations such as this will become increasingly important as hospitalists search for value in health care.

Bottom line: Creating a national community of practice may reduce overutilization in bronchiolitis.

Citation: Ralston S, Garber M, Narang S, et al. Decreasing unnecessary utilization in acute bronchiolitis care: results from the Value in Inpatient Pediatrics Network. J Hosp Med. 2013;8(1):25-30.

Reviewed by Pediatric Editor Mark Shen, MD, SFHM, medical director of hospital medicine at Dell Children's Medical Center, Austin, Texas.

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