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Improving OSA screening and diagnosis in patients with hypertension in an academic safety net primary care clinic: quality improvement project


Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is more prevalent in patients with hypertension (HTN), and associated morbidities include stroke, heart failure and premature death. In the Internal Medicine Clinic (IMC), over 70% of the patients had a diagnosis of HTN and obesity. We identified a lack of OSA screening in patients with HTN. The aim of this quality improvement (QI) was to increase OSA diagnosis to 5% from the baseline rate of less than 1% in patients with HTN between the ages of 18 and 75 years over 6 months at IMC. We used the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) method. The QI team performed root cause analysis to identify materials/methods, provider and patient-related barriers. PDSA cycle included: (1) integration of customised workflow of loud Snoring, Tiredness, Observed apnea, high blood Pressure (STOP)-Body mass index (BMI), Age, Neck circumference, and Gender (BANG) OSA screening tool in the electronic health record (EHR); (2) physician education of OSA and EHR workflow; and (3) completion of STOP survey by patients, which was facilitated by nursing staff. The outcome measure was the percentage of OSA diagnosis in patients with HTN. The process measures included the percentage of patients with HTN screened for OSA and the increase in sleep study referrals in hypertensive patients with STOP-BANG score of ≥3. Increase in patient wait time and cost of sleep study were the balance measures. Data analysis was performed using weekly statistical process control chart. The average increase in OSA screening rate using the STOP-BANG tool was 3.88%. The significant variation seen in relation to PDSA cycles was not sustainable. 32% of patients scored ≥3 on the STOP-BANG tool, and 10.4% had a confirmed diagnosis of OSA. STOP-BANG tool integration in the EHR and a team approach did not result in a sustainable increase in OSA screening. OSA diagnosis was increased to 3.3% in IMC patient population within the 6-month period. The team identified multiple barriers to screening and diagnosis of OSA in the IMC.

  • primary care
  • quality improvement
  • healthcare quality improvement

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  • Contributors SYB: performed research and writing. MN and MS: performed research. AK: performed research. JLR: writing

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Based on local policy, this work was deemed as an improvement study and not a research study on human subjects as patients were not affected directly, and their treatment was not altered nor were they given an experimental or novel therapy. The local research policy was met, and ethical approval was not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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