Improvement Science

Improvement science is our stock and trade. We use quality improvement methods and tools in everything we do to enhance system performance. Read a little more below, or take a deeper diver on any of these topics: The Breakthrough Series, Driver Diagrams, Model for Improvement, PDSA Cycles and Run Charts.

The Model for Improvement

The Model for Improvement is at the heart of our approach. This robust improvement framework was developed by Associates in Process Improvement and has been used successfully by hundreds of healthcare organizations to improve healthcare processes and outcomes. The model consists of two cornerstone steps: (1) answering three fundamental questions and (2) testing changes through Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles.

Part 1: Three Fundamental Questions

Successful improvement efforts begin with a solid foundation for the project. The Model for Improvement poses three fundamental questions to guide the work:
  1. What are we trying to accomplish? The team develops an aim statement that outlines what it wants to accomplish, how much and by when.
    Example: By next February, we will cut our wait time in half for all 250 of our pediatric patients.
  2. How will we know if a change is an improvement? The team identifies process and outcome measures to collect over time to track improvement and evaluate progress.
    Example: The average amount of time patients spend in the waiting room or patient satisfaction with waiting time.
  3. What changes can we make that will result in improvement? The team brainstorms ideas and selects changes to test.
Example: Use a new sign-in system or schedule new patients earlier in the morning.

The answers to the first two questions (aim and measures) should remain constant, while the ideas for potential changes will evolve as new ideas are tested and refined.

Part 2: Testing Change through PDSA Cycles

Improvement teams turn ideas into action by rapidly testing and implementing changes in real settings. The process generally involves four steps:
  • PLAN the test and predict results
  • DO the change and observe outcomes
  • STUDY the data and compare with predictions
  • ACT on the learnings to develop the next test

The PDSA cycle guides the test of a change to determine if the change is an improvement. Sequential tests build on one another as changes that show promise are expanded for testing on larger scales and in multiple setting until the team is confident that the change should be adopted widely.


The Model For Improvement

Ramping Up with PDSA's