Quality Improvement 101: Creating a Culture of Continuous Quality Improvement

What is quality improvement?

Quality improvement (QI) is a framework used to analyze practice performance to make systematic improvements.

What is quality improvement in healthcare?

In healthcare, quality improvement is the framework used to systematically improve quality of care by standardizing process and structure. The goal is to produce predictable results and reduce variation in order to improve outcomes for patients.

An example of standardizing process is introducing a streamlined standard for employee education and training, as well as standard operating procedures for staff.

An example of standardizing structure would be operating on the same technological standard, such as an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Home Exercise Program (HEP) platform, as well as workplace culture and leadership.

One of the most prominent quality improvement frameworks was pioneered by the Institute of Medicine, which includes the six domains of healthcare quality1:

Safe: Avoiding harm to patients from the care that is intended to help them.

Effective: Providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit (avoiding underuse and misuse, respectively).

Patient-centered: Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.

Timely: Reducing waits and sometimes harmful delays for both those who receive and those who give care.

Efficient: Avoiding waste, including waste of equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.

Equitable: Providing care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.


Why is quality improvement important in healthcare?

Quality improvement programs in healthcare can result in a wide range of benefits, including:

Beyond the benefits in practice, participating in the quality improvement process can be beneficial for healthcare organizations across the country. The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) established a voluntary reporting system designed to improve available data to help assess patient safety and healthcare quality.

What are the types of quality improvement?

There are many types of quality improvement models that healthcare organizations use, but they must use a systematic framework for establishing processes.

Examples of common QI models include:

Model for Improvement

This QI model is also commonly known as Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles, and is split into two phases: The first phase sets goals, establishes measures, and selects an intervention. The second phase tests the intervention in the real world using the PDSA cycle.

Six Sigma

This QI model is a method of improvement whose goal is to decrease variation and defects.


This QI model strives to drive out waste and improve efficiency in work processes so that all work adds value.

Quality Assurance Performance Improvement

QAPI takes a systematic, data-driven approach to maintaining and improving safety and quality in hospitals, home health and hospice settings.

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What are the 4 steps of quality improvement?

The four steps of quality improvement are Assessment, Analysis, Planning and Implementation, and Ongoing Quality Assurance, which function in a continuous cycle.

Assessment – Determine what needs to be improved and establish goals.

Analysis – Select measures to monitor progress and develop changes.

Planning and Implementation – Develop a detailed plan of action.

Ongoing Quality Assurance – Use data to review what worked and what didn’t—then determine what to keep, and begin the cycle anew. 

How can MedBridge help with quality improvement?

The MedBridge Quality Improvement Solution elevates quality by remediating gaps through targeted education and engagement programs for staff and patients. Our solution has helped:

Request a demo to find out how our solution can help your organization with quality improvement.

  1. Institute of Medicine (IOM). Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press; 2001.