The Common Sense Guide to Improving Palliative Care > 2.1 An Orientation

Sick To Death book cover This extract from the online edition of The Common Sense Guide to Improving Palliative Care is used with permission.

Basics of Quality Improvement: An Orientation

In This Chapter

Wanting to improve the quality of care in your organization is a great idea: but how do you do it? This manual, based on the examples of scores of other groups, offers ideas and tips so that you can literally get started tomorrow. Before tackling specific issues, such as advance care planning or pain management, take time to review the basics of rapid-cycle quality improvement (QI), a well-tested and efficient method for making deliberate improvements in care. This model was developed for use in healthcare by the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), which provides many resources, including breakthrough series programs, conference calls, and an extensive website.

Rapid-cycle QI requires teams to set aims, try out changes, and measure the effects in order to decide what to do next. To get started, you need to answer three questions:

  1. What are we trying to accomplish? (Aim)
  2. What can we do to improve things? (Changes)
  3. How will we know that the change is an improvement? (Measures)

With answers to these questions in mind, your team will stay focused and move forward quickly. Try writing down your answers to these questions right now, and then use the rest of this chapter to sharpen your answers and shape your project. Once you have answered these questions, the QI method tests your ideas and tracks your progress. The rest of this chapter explains how to make the process work.

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