Background: Quality improvements are notoriously followed by "backsliding" or relapse to the status quo. This mixed-methods study examined the sustainment of Lean workflow redesigns for primary care teams several years after being implemented in a large, ambulatory care delivery system. Methods: We conducted qualitative interviews of 57 leaders and frontline providers, and fielded post-Lean implementation surveys to 1164 physicians and staff in 17 primary care clinics across the system. We analyzed interviews and conducted independent sample t tests to identify key factors that facilitated the sustainment of new workflows among primary care teams. All analyses were conducted after Lean redesigns were implemented and scaled across the system in 3 consecutive phases. Results: Adherence to Lean redesigns was highest in the pilot clinic, despite having the longest postdesign measurement period. Members of the pilot clinic reported greatest participation in designing workflows, were most highly engaged in quality improvement efforts, and held most favorable beliefs about Lean changes. Adherence to redesigns was lowest among clinic members in the second phase of implementation; these members also reported highest levels of burnout. Conclusions: Staff participation in Lean redesign is a key to facilitating buy-in and adherence to changes. Change ownership and continued availability of time for improvement activities are also critical to the long-term success of Lean implementation in primary care.
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- organizational management
- patient care team
- primary health care
- total quality management