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What is quality improvement?

Quality improvement (QI) can be thought of as…

“the combined and unceasing efforts of everyone – healthcare professionals, patients and their families, researchers, payers, planners and educators – to make the changes that will lead to better patient outcomes (health), better system performance (care) and better professional development (learning).”
Batalden, 2007

To truly achieve the widespread improvements in quality, outcomes and cost that the healthcare system needs, we need to make QI a central part of everyone’s daily work. To do this at scale, healthcare staff need to feel confident in their ability to understand and apply quality improvement methods in practice.

QI helps bring a systematic approach to tackling complex problems, focusing on outcomes, flattening hierarchies, giving everyone a voice, and bringing staff and service users together to improve and redesign the way that care is provided.

When done successfully, QI will change the culture of a system, whether the system is a single team, a department, an organisation or a health economy.

We see QI as much more than just a method or model, but more of an approach to organisational learning, development and improvement.

Knowledge for improvement focuses on five core areas:

  • Subject matter expertise and experience
  • How to create reliable systems that deliver great results
  • How to reduce unacceptable levels of variation in quality
  • The psychology of change and how to work best with people, teams and organisations
  • How to learn and share improvement techniques.

Put together in a creative way, these skills can form the basis for continuous improvement.

Thanks to Dr Amar Shah, Associate Medical Director (Quality Improvement) & Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, East London NHS Foundation Trust – qi.elft.nhs.uk

Evolution of QI >

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