Quality Improvement Applied to Sexually Transmitted Disease Programs
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) are a major public health challenge, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that there are approximately 20 million new STD infections
in the US each year.
In an effort to increase STD testing and treatment, the CDC Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases collaborated with the Public Health Foundation (PHF) to provide targeted quality improvement services
to two state health departments: New Mexico and South Carolina. PHF provided on-site technical assistance and distance coaching to both health departments to help them utilize quality improvement and performance management tools and techniques.
In New Mexico, PHF QI Experts helped the quality improvement team identify two areas in which the most change could occur: re-interviewing all people diagnosed with syphilis within 7 days of the original interview and identifying clusters of people who are at-risk for early syphilis or HIV. The quality improvement team made changes to the clinic process flow to allow for the re-interviews and created new policies for their field testing staff to help identify clusters.
In South Carolina, the quality improvement team created a new service track for people who were asymptomatic and only wanted to receive an STD test, not a full appointment. Through use of quality improvement tools and techniques, the team was able to critically analyze the current procedure and reach consensus on how to change the system. After the system was created, the process was tested in three regional health departments and, due to overwhelming success and increased STD testing, they implemented the process statewide.