Improving the Care Pathway for Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive life-limiting interstitial lung disease. The median survival from diagnosis is just three years and the clinical course of the disease is highly variable. Due to the short course of this condition, early diagnosis and intervention is vital to improve patient outcomes and quality of care. Management of IPF is multi-factorial and requires the introduction of a standardised IPF care pathway and service to improve patient care. Increasing all hospital clinical staff awareness and improving non-respiratory staff education about IPF should increase referrals to this new service. The Lean Six Sigma model DMAIC was used to formulate a quality improvement (QI) project plan to improve IPF quality care. QI tools including stakeholder analysis, driver diagrams, fishbone diagram and process flow maps were utilised. Data was collected displaying gaps in the current management of IPF patients. A specialist IPF consultant-led service was proposed and piloted to determine the efficiency of the project plan. A number of initiatives were proposed to improve staff awareness and increase IPF service referrals. Staff education sessions, drafting an IPF poster with clinic details and advertising IPF details on numerous forums were among the methods of implementing staff awareness. This QI should positively affect the quality of care provided to IPF patients and improve patient outcomes. Increasing staff awareness of IPF should also allow IPF to be diagnosed at an earlier time. IPF patients are a complex cohort of patients who require specialist care and intervention. The DMAIC model allowed the author to define the problem, set goals and decide on QI tools.