The Office of Population Improvement at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) submitted a quality improvement (QI) initiative with the goal of better understanding the referral process in Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program clinics (specifically, referral to public health services [PHS]) and increasing the number of WIC clients referred to those services who actually receive the service. Historically, there has been no systematic tracking process for identifying those who have received a service to which they were referred, and communication between the WIC clinics and PHS were nearly nonexistent. More than 10,000 referrals are given to Maryland WIC clients for PHS each month (state-wide), with no way to determine whether those referrals were received. This project worked toward not only connecting WIC clients to PHS, but also enabling PHS to reach out to the WIC clients to make the referrals more effective (lessen the burden for the WIC clients). Prince George's and Montgomery counties participated in this pilot project.
The project focused on four PHS that the WIC staff and DHMH identified as being integral touch points for WIC: immunizations, lead testing, comprehensive women's health, and smoking cessation. WIC staff make referrals in these four areas, to either the local health department (LHD) or to community health partners.
The team tested four individual improvement hypotheses (one for each area) over 10 months (from December 2012 to September 2013), to identify the best ways in which to increase the chances of a WIC client receiving the service to which he or she was referred. Accomplishments of this project include developing a comprehensive women’s health training module for WIC staff, implementing the Fax to Assist (FTA) smoking cessation program within participating WIC clinics, and gaining a clearer understanding of the gaps and uses of WIC and PHS data.
Organization that conducted the QI initiative: