The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines require that low-priority chlamydia (CT) and gonorrhea (GC) reports be processed within 30 days of receipt. When this quality improvement (QI) project was initiated, the backlog time for low-priority CT and GC reports received by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) was 86 days. Additionally, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) requires that all disease reports from the prior year be entered and closed in the Illinois National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (INEDSS) by the end of the first quarter of the current year. To decrease the backlog time to meet CDC guidelines and to eliminate the first quarter “all hands on deck” mode so non–data entry staff can focus on disease control, prevention, and surveillance activities, the CDPH Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Surveillance Program initiated a 5-day Kaizen event to reduce the backlog time of low-priority CT and GC reports, from receipt to closure in INEDSS, from 86 days to 30 days by June 2014.
Using data collected before and during the Kaizen event and working through the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) process led to improvements that were different from the initial assumption of the problem and pre-identified solutions, underscoring the need for using information and systematic methods to improve processes. To address the backlog time, the STI Surveillance Program immediately changed the method for how incoming reports were sorted and bundled for assignment to data entry staff; developed a revised morbidity reporting form and standardized laboratory reporting form to reduce data entry time; determined that data entry staff were keeping up with incoming reports and the backlog was perpetuated year after year; and proposed a solution to management so that the backlog could be permanently addressed.
Organization that conducted the QI initiative: