The Coordination Toolkit and Coaching Project: Cluster-Randomized Quality Improvement Initiative to Improve Patient Experience of Care Coordination

Polly H Noel, Jenny M. Barnard, Mei Leng, Lauren Penney, Purnima S. Bharath, Tanya T. Olmos-Ochoa, Neetu Chawla, Danielle E. Rose, Susan E. Stockdale, Alissa Simon, Martin L. Lee, Erin P. Finley, Lisa V. Rubenstein, David A. Ganz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Given persistent gaps in coordination of care for medically complex primary care patients, efficient strategies are needed to promote better care coordination. Objective: The Coordination Toolkit and Coaching project compared two toolkit-based strategies of differing intensity to improve care coordination at VA primary care clinics. Design: Multi-site, cluster-randomized QI initiative. Participants: Twelve VA primary care clinics matched in 6 pairs. Interventions: We used a computer-generated allocation sequence to randomize clinics within each pair to two implementation strategies. Active control clinics received an online toolkit with evidence-based tools and QI coaching manual. Intervention clinics received the online toolkit plus weekly assistance from a distance coach for 12 months. Main Measures: We quantified patient experience of general care coordination using the Health Care System Hassles Scale (primary outcome) mailed at baseline and 12-month follow-up to serial cross-sectional patient samples. We measured the difference-in-difference (DiD) in clinic-level-predicted mean counts of hassles between coached and non-coached clinics, adjusting for clustering and patient characteristics using zero-inflated negative binomial regression and bootstrapping to obtain 95% confidence intervals. Other measures included care coordination QI projects attempted, tools adopted, and patient-reported exposure to projects. Key Results: N = 2,484 (49%) patients completed baseline surveys and 2,481 (48%) completed follow-ups. Six coached clinics versus five non-coached clinics attempted QI projects. All coached clinics versus two non-coached clinics attempted more than one project or projects that were multifaceted (i.e., involving multiple components addressing a common goal). Five coached versus three non-coached clinics used 1–2 toolkit tools. Both the coached and non-coached clinics experienced pre-post reductions in hassle counts over the study period (− 0.42 (− 0.76, − 0.08) non-coached; − 0.40 (− 0.75, − 0.06) coached). However, the DiD (0.02 (− 0.47, 0.50)) was not statistically significant; coaching did not improve patient experience of care coordination relative to the toolkit alone. Conclusion: Although coached clinics attempted more or more complex QI projects and used more tools than non-coached clinics, coaching provided no additional benefit versus the online toolkit alone in patient-reported outcomes. Trial Registration: identifier: NCT03063294.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Veteran
  • care coordination
  • cluster-randomized controlled trial
  • patient experience
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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