OBJECTIVES - 1) Describe a quality improvement (QI) process to decrease door-to-balloon time (D2B); 2) Explain implementation of evidence-based strategies to improve D2B.
BACKGROUND - The ACC/AHA 2006 guideline target for ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is a D2B of 90 minutes (min). QI methods can be used to identify areas for improvement, measure current processes, and provide rapid-cycle feedback about which strategies are effective.
METHODS - We studied all STEMI patients presenting to Vanderbilt University Medical Center from July 2005 through November 2006. A process flow chart was created and all D2B process steps were analyzed. In February 2006, evidence-based strategies were implemented to address bottlenecks and decrease D2B. Statistical process control (SPC) was used to monitor D2B time in real-time.
RESULTS - Targeted changes led to a 44 min decrease (p < 0.001) in overall median D2B time from 108 min (interquartile range [IQR] = 94-122 min) to 64 min (IQR = 56-94 min). Subinterval time periods for emergency department (ED)-to-electrocardiogram (ECG) time decreased by 7 min (p = 0.008), ECG-to-cardiac catheterization laboratory (CCL) time decreased by 18 min (p = 0.01), and CCL-to-balloon time decreased by 4 min (p = 0.19). After implementation, SPC charts revealed a 50% decrease in the central mean line and narrower control limits indicating more reliable performance.
CONCLUSIONS - Using QI methods of flow-charting, identifying bottlenecks, targeting strategies to bottleneck areas, and real-time monitoring with SPC and rapid-cycle feedback, D2B processes can be systematically redesigned for improvement. QI methods can be used by individual institutions to customize and implement strategies for their particular context.