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J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2006 Fall;26(4):268-84.

Integrating education into primary care quality and cost improvement at an academic medical center.

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  • 1Department of Medical Education and Office of Continuing Medical Education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0201, USA.



In 1996 the University of Michigan Health System created the Guidelines Utilization, Implementation, Development, and Evaluation Studies (GUIDES) unit to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of primary care for common medical problems. GUIDES's primary functions are to oversee the development of evidence-based, practical clinical guidelines for common medical conditions; measure and provide feedback on physicians' performance; and facilitate systemic changes to support appropriate care. Various methods are used to improve care, including evidence reviews, formal education, informal clinical "opinion leaders," feedback, reminders, and procedure changes. Twenty-four common medical conditions have been addressed through this process. More than 30 measures of clinical performance have been developed and reported.


This case study describes a systematic, multifaceted program to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of primary care.


Illustrative results for clinical performance are presented for 2 measures of chronic care, 2 measures of preventive care, and 2 measures of acute care. All 6 measures show general improvement in performance across years, with performance near or above the National Committee for Quality Assurance's 90th percentile for Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set measures.


A systematic approach involving all relevant components of a health system integrates the synthesis of information, education about the information and how to implement it, and addressing operational barriers. Benefits include a curriculum that is shared across faculty, residents, and medical students and more uniform quality of care that faculty model for physicians-in-training.

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