Quality Improvement Project

Quality Improvement is a Hallmark of Institutional Integrity

The Quality Improvement Project (QIP) provides an opportunity for students to develop an awareness of and responsiveness to the healthcare system within which they practice, conduct a self-analysis of practice to identify professional strengths and weaknesses, and develop a program of life-long self-directed learning to remediate weaknesses and further develop strengths.

In the first professional doctoral course, RQ0145 DAcOM Portfolio and Practice-Based Learning, students working alone or on teams will run a need analysis and create a quality improvement project (QIP). Upon acceptance, students will implement their QIP and report on its outcomes. Descriptions of projects underway are listed by cohorts.

QIPs for First Professional Doctorate 2016 Cohort

Practice Management QIP

This QIP is focused on creating best practice guidelines for new graduates of acupuncture and oriental medicine programs.  These guidelines will include, but are not limited to, steps for successfully starting a new business, strategies for establishing an effective marketing plan, and tools to aid in assessing progress of practice development.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Clinical Data Capture in an Electronic Medical Record System

Currently, there is no standardized format for entering Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCA) data into the Veteran’s Administration (VA) medical record. This QIP captures the process and results of implementing computer tools allowing for consistent documentation of patient encounters into an electronic medical records (EMR) system when using TCA in an integrative clinical setting. These computer tools include a standardized chart template, acupuncture point description creator and physical assessment text generator.  Consistent documentation between different patients and providers will allow statistical analysis of outcomes and improved patient care. The outcome measures track the tools’ usability and content accessibility for all types of providers.

Mindfulness in the Workplace

This QIP focuses on demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness practices in the workplace. Mindfulness in this context is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. After approval by the IRB, this pilot project will use a pre-post survey (via REDCap) of the participants in a series of classes. The hope is this will confirm and add to the discussion of the benefits of mindfulness exercises: fewer sick days, increased focus and work performance, and increased quality of life are expected outcomes. This QIP will also include a brochure that outlines the benefits with evidence-based research cited, to propose class structures for TCM practitioners to offer mindfulness practices in businesses and their communities.

Food and Health

The goal of this QIP is to create an educational lecture series on topics pertaining to food and health for the use of TCM. This nformation, targeting the general public, will include, but not be limited to: food groups, food quality and seasonality, Chinese foods and herbs as medicine, and grocery shopping on a budget. This series aids and empowers individuals to make educated decisions on food as a component to overall health and well-being.

Medical Student Health in TCM Program

This QIP will identify, evaluate, and re-imagine models of medical student health within the unique environment of a Traditional Chinese Medicine program. The end product will be a “welcome guide” to maintaining optimal health during the student experience at AOMA. This guide will focus on student centered self assessment and preventative strategies as well as detailing other opportunities for health at AOMA, Austin, and beyond.

Acupuncturists as Insurance Providers

This QIP will help new and future acupuncture practitioners better understand the pros and cons of taking insurance. Resources will be available to acupuncture students and acupuncturists with a current step-by-step process of getting credentialed by insurance companies and how to handle insurance clients and associated paperwork.

Improving Access to Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs in Southern Maine

This QIP addresses the demand for increased access to TCM in southern Maine by assessing the greater Portland community and proposing a multi-step process for closing the gap between providers and underserved patient populations. The project is based on an established needs and market analysis of  the greater Portland area, which finds  access to low-cost acupuncture treatments extremely limited.. Current acupuncture patients are primarily higher earners and/or Mainers with excellent insurance benefits. The end result of the QIP will be an operational lost-cost acupuncture practice, with strategic plan for achieving non-profit 501(c) (3) tax exempt status.

Texas Acupuncture and the Essential Health Benefits Plan

Texas state mandated medical care is allotted through the Essential Health Benefits plan (EHB). Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is the current stakeholder of Texas’ EHB, and the proposal of this project is to research and deliver educational material, constituent and practitioner letters, and affirm acupuncture’s coverage under the Nondiscrimination Act. Multiple organizations currently exist on a national level to assist grassroots and state organizations to secure Acupuncturists’ role in statewide healthcare.

Acupuncture in Integrative Settings

The purpose of this QIP is to inspire Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners and students to work in an integrative model and to assist them with tools to make this a possibility. Research for this QIP includes interviews with experienced practitioners currently working in integrative models, peer reviewed studies supporting acupuncture's therapeutic effect, as well as examples of integrative models currently being implemented. This project originated by a response to the opioid epidemic in North America, as well as the push for systems-based practice in American medicine. The Joint Opioid Task Force and the American Society of Acupuncture started this effort by asserting acupuncture as an alternative to treat chronic pain.  In addition, this QIP’s research shows that integrative jobs are best obtained by an in-person presentation of pertinent data to explain TCM in a way that makes it more accessible to other healthcare professionals.  By providing the tools and information through a tutorial, it is expected that more acupuncturists seek positions in integrative spaces treating chronic pain and  other conditions.

Biomedical Physical Assessment Education and Integration for Acupuncturists

Biomedical education is a requirement for acupuncture licensure in many states.  At AOMA, students take two biomedical physical assessment (PA) classes before starting their clinical internship where they are expected to use it regularly during patient intake. However, in practice, acupuncture students are not using PA consistently and when they are asked to do so, have variability in confidence and competence. This QIP is a needs analysis inquiry into why students are not consistently integrating PA into their clinical internship and what change in educational practices could facilitate optimal integration.  Additional questions posed include: Why is PA used by acupuncturists? Why is PA important and will it change the course of acupuncture treatment chosen? How is the PA curriculum determined and are the tests required for licensure standardized from class to clinical internship?