Improvement Project Samples

Examples of successful clinical and non-clinical Improvement in Medical Practice projects that have been previously approved ABO for MOC credit are listed below, some of which have been developed using AAO IRIS® Registry dashboard data. You are encouraged to browse these project plans and use them as templates to design a project relevant to your own practice or clinical interests. Projects developed according to one of the templates below do not need pre-approval from the ABO.

Clinical Project Samples

  • Assessing the Degree of Pain Associated with Intravitreal Injections
    In this practice, internal guidelines called for patients to be brought into the treatment room for an intravitreal injection within 5-20 minutes following instillation of 2% Lidocaine gel. However, compliance with this guideline was only at 64%. After implementing steps to streamline processes, 94% of patients were treated within these guidelines. In addition, patients’ average pain index score decreased from 1.12 to 0.5 after the project’s interventions.
  • Critical Problem Areas in Patient Safety and Education in Age-Related Macular Degeneration
    This project sought to define a comprehensive strategy for specific and appropriate patient education measures regarding the prevention of progressive vision loss and new onset of vision loss, along with safety measures to minimize unnecessary vision loss. Among the project’s outcomes was that all but one patient in the study experienced an improvement in visual acuity.
  • Improving Amblyopia Compliance in Children
    This project examined compliance with patch therapy in pediatric patients. Interventions included enhanced patient education techniques and counseling. By the project's conclusion, patch compliance in 30 patients improved from 81% to 94%. The project helped staff learn what motivates families to patch and inspired the care team to more diligently recommend correction of patient amblyopia.
  • Improving Counseling and Compliance for Patients with Use of AREDS in Advanced AMD
    The project’s goal was to use data to increase the number of patients with advanced AMD taking AREDS. Initially, about half of patients were not taking AREDS. Following the plan’s interventions, which included a systematic patient outreach plan, 57% of patients who were counseled to take AREDS began to take AREDS within a 90-day follow-up period. The majority of patients who reported not taking AREDS in the 90-day follow-up period agreed to start taking AREDS as soon as possible.
  • Improving Dry Eye Management After PRK Surgery
    Many patients who have PRK surgery have post-op dry eye symptoms and are recommended to undergo punctal occlusion by plugs. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of this treatment in improving dry eyes after PRK surgery.
  • Improving Effectiveness of Treatment of Patients with Diabetic Macular Edema
    Diabetes is an increasingly common, systemic disease often complicated by sight-threatening visual loss resulting from diabetic macular edema. Successful treatment can be slow and difficult, involving numerous visits and very expensive drugs. The aim of this project was to leverage resources to achieve improved eye health in patients with diabetic macular edema. Patients in this study experienced a greater rate of decrease in both blood sugar and systolic blood pressure following project implementation.
  • Improving Guideline-Concordant Surveillance Imaging in Patients with von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome
    Patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome present to ophthalmologists because of the high prevalence of retinal capillary hemangioma (RCH). In addition to making the diagnosis of VHL, the appropriate management of a patient with newly-diagnosed VHL includes referral for appropriate systemic imaging to rule out other associated malignant and benign tumors. Because many subspecialists are involved in caring for the protean manifestations of this syndrome, care is often fragmented. In addition, primary care physicians are often unaware of the surveillance guidelines for this rare disease. Appropriate surveillance can be life-saving, but is often neglected due to fragmentation of care. This process improvement project led to 100% concordance with published imaging guidelines.
  • Improving Rate of Gonioscopy Performed on Glaucoma Patients
    About 33% of patients presenting for glaucoma evaluation were receiving goniosopic evaluations. Gonioscopy was falling through the cracks, perhaps because patients were dilated prior to being identified as glaucoma suspects or having POAG. Implementation of a reference chart to ensure that the diagnostic tests were performed resulted in improved quality of care, with 97% of subsequent patients receiving a gonioscopy evaluation.
  • *Registry-Based* Increasing Tobacco Use Counseling
    This project focused on increasing the rate at which tobacco use counseling was provided to patients (within a mostly Medicare-age population), particularly those with ARMD. In July 2017, just 2.7% of patients received tobacco use counseling. After the implementation of a systematic checklist prompting staff to ask about patient tobacco use, that percentage increased to 94.09% by the end of 2017.
  • Reducing Extraneous OCT and VF Testing of Plaquenil Patients
    This project aimed to decrease extraneous testing in order to reduce risk to patients and conserve organizational resources. Following interventions, there was a 12.9% reduction in superfluous testing when all "Plaquenil patients" presenting to the clinic were examined. Given that prior to the intervention 100% of all Plaquenil patients were subjected to testing, the project had a significant and positive impact on patient safety as well as patient and healthcare facility time, energy, and money.
  • Reducing Incidence of Post-Intravitreal Injection Corneal Abrasion
    This project was designed to reduce the frequency of post-intravitreal injection corneal abrasions. The estimated risk of corneal abrasion in two large studies of intravitreal injections is roughly 0.15% (1 in 750). After making changes in the intravitreal injection procedure (provider/staff/equipment) over three months, the incidence of corneal abrasions after intravitreal injections at the clinic was dramatically reduced from 1 in 50 (2%) to 1 in 200 (0.5%).
  • Reducing Rate of Perioperative Incidents Related to Intraoperative Time-Out Procedure
    To improve quality outcomes and create a safer medical practice environment for patients, this project addressed perioperative incidents related to gaps in the process of conducting sign-in/time-out for surgical vitreoretinal procedures. Following systematic changes to the sign-in/time-out processes, none of the 126 patients in the follow-up study groups experienced perioperative incidents. The surgical team plans to adopt these new processes as a “lifetime” project.
  • Reliability of Neuroimaging Studies
    Patients are seen for a variety of neuro-ophthalmic disorders and undergo neuroimaging. These scans are often interpreted by general radiologists without specific neuro-radiologic training. This project reviewed 54 neuroimaging studies by neuroradiologists at an academic medical center to see if any abnormalities were overlooked and/or misinterpreted, and if so, whether it altered the diagnosis and management of the patient. In 12/54 of cases, new or re-interpreted findings emerged which led to a change in diagnosis or patient management in 75% of those instances.
  • Unilateral Ptosis Repair
    To improve Margin to Reflex 1 (MRD-1) symmetry in unilateral ptosis patients, this project incorporated Hering's Law testing in the preoperative assessment. Pre-intervention analysis of 40 unilateral ptosis patients revealed postoperative MRD-1 asymmetry to be 0.96 mm. Incorporating the Hering's Law test improved postoperative MRD-1 symmetry to an average of 0.48 mm over 40 unilateral ptosis patients, which was a 50% improvement.

Non-Clinical Project Samples

  • Avoiding Preventable Errors in Outpatient Intravitreal Injections
    To avoid errors in outpatient intravitreal injections, this plan introduced three interventions: 1) performance and documentation of a time-out; 2) site marking of eye to be injected; and 3) identification of injection errors or near misses. The study captured 8 near misses in 509 cases (1.6%) and resulted in no medical errors (such as wrong eye, wrong drug, etc.)
  • *Registry-Based* Closing the Referral Loop & Optic Nerve Head Evaluation
    Communication with referring physicians remains an important and the comprehensive care of the ophthalmology patient. In order to foster a team based approach, an initiative is undertaken to improve the reporting of examination findings between the specialist and the referring physician. Optic nerve head evaluation is integral to eye care and for glaucoma patients in particular.  Consistent documentation of optic nerve characteristics is essential for future clinical decision making therefore efforts at improving the frequency of optic nerve documentation is an important initiative.
  • Improving Approaches to Preventing Wrong Site Surgeries
    Through this project, an application for a pictorial description of the surgical site was created and implemented at surgery center. The post-project data revealed a 20% decrease in risk factors for wrong site errors such as incomplete laterality, incomplete booking forms, incomplete procedure description, and site marks that were removed during prep or cover by surgical draping.
  • Improving Compliance with Diabetic Patients
    The no-show rate among high-risk diabetic patients in one group practice was 3-12% higher than the national average. By making what the project author described as “small changes,” including calling patients the day before scheduled visits, the practice was able to reduce the no-show rate among patients with diabetes by 18%.
  • Improving Compliance with Follow-up Appointments for Patients Treated with Glaucoma Medications
    Development of a Glaucoma Medication Refill Checklist protocol that will be completed for each refill request received for glaucoma medication. The patient's record is reviewed, and the checklist will be used to confirm accuracy of medication requested, and to document if the patient has been maintaining appropriate follow up.  If it is determined that the patient is not maintaining appropriate follow up, patient will be contacted by office staff to schedule appropriate follow up, explain the importance of follow up, and inform the patient that limited refills will be authorized to maintain ongoing treatment until the follow up appointment.
  • Improving Doctor-Parent Communication for High-Risk ROP Patients
    In addition to receiving printed educational materials, just 13% of NICU parents were routinely receiving phone calls to discuss the status of their child’s ROP. To improve parent education, the team developed a plan to better educate parents about the need for close follow-up. By adding a phone call to a newly created checklist for ROP patients, the practice successfully reached 93% of parents to discuss care questions and schedule follow-up visits.
  • Improving Long-Term Follow-up of NICU Graduates
    In this hospital setting, fewer than 3 out of 4 families were bringing their children to their scheduled ROP screenings. The goal of this project was to implement interventions to improve attendance, such as instituting reminder calls and texts, inquiring about transportation issues, and providing educational materials. Following the implementation of these interventions, attendance rose to 76.5%.
  • Improving No-Show Rates in Patients with Diabetic Eye Disease
    In patients with diabetic eye disease, the no-show rate for appointments was 26% in this group practice. After implementing a dual call-back system, where both the ophthalmology practice and the patient’s primary call practice provided appointment reminder phone calls, the no-show rate dropped to 18%.
  • Improving Surgery Timeout Performance
    Incorrect treatment in refractive surgery is a devastating but preventable treatment error. To develop a refractive surgery checklist that will be used consistently and accurately to decrease this error and increase patient satisfaction and reduce treatment errors to as close to zero as possible. By working with optometrists, laser and surgical technicians, tol develop a written surgical checklist protocol that will improve accurate treatment rates and improve patient safety.
  • In-Office Procedure Checklist Protocol
    Implementing a checklist protocol akin to airline pilots helps surgeons avoid unnecessary errors. In this project, a new system checklist was applied to in-office laser procedures. Following the introduction of the checklist, time-out use for these procedures rose to 100%. Utilizing a standardized checklist system increased the practice’s efficiencies, decreased patient wait times, and enhanced the ability to provide high quality patient care.