Improving the Performance of Quality Improvement Teams

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Improving the Performance of Quality Improvement Teams
Within every company there is a customer, regardless of what your line of business is it is being done for the consumer albeit an external consumer or the internal consumer. The customer’s needs and expectations should be the driving force behind the decisions we make and the problems we solve…the customer, not our own personal or monetary gain. As quality improves we have to make sure that we are improving what matters to our customers not want we want to improve upon for own sake.

What is quality improvement? Why is it necessary? Who benefits from having a Quality Improvement Team? What can we do to improve their performance? Quality improvement is a “structured organizational process for involving personnel in planning and executing a continuous flow of improvement to provide quality health care that meets or exceeds expectations (McLaughlin & Kaluzny, 2006, pg 3)”. Improving quality includes creating new methods (such as the PDCA cycle) in effort in closing the gap between current and expected levels as dictated by standards. Organizations that have quality improvement teams are constantly looking for ways to improve their current level of service. Everyone involved from patients to employers will all benefit from quality improvement, this paper will go on to answer the above asked questions, and dice into the importance of quality improvement teams and ways we can improve them.

The Focus
Quality improvement focuses on understanding customer’s needs and the processes it takes to serve them satisfactorily. Quality improvement has been applied for decades and has more recently been used to implement changes in the healthcare industry. This movement draws inspiration from many disciplines such as the six-sigma method, which represents standard deviation and the concept that all items of a specification fall within six standard deviation of the mean. It uses data gathering and analysis to identify sources of error and ways of eliminating them, methods as such is used to improve upon quality and patient safety. Even though we can attempt to make systems safer, we must remember that human contribution remains a large part of the system.

Benefits of Quality Improvement
Continuous quality improvements have been implemented in health care due to concerns about the care and the appropriateness of services rendered. There are endless benefits to quality improvement the following are just to list a few; improved morale, better customer service, increased productivity and increased revenue just to name few. Having the right people on a process improvement team is very important to its success; teams vary in size and composition. Every organization builds a custom team to suit its own needs. According to the McLaughlin & Kaluzny text, most quality improvement teams are faced with the PDCA cycle, which is planning, doing, checking and acting. The PDCA cycle is a four-step model for carrying out change, just as a circle has no end, the PDCA cycle should be repeated repeatedly for continuous improvement.

To plan is to identify the opportunity and initiate a change. Do is to test the change or carry out a small study. Check is to analyze the results and to identify what was learned, and the final step is to take action based on what you learned in the check step. If the change did not work, go through the cycle with a different plan, however if it was successful use what was learned to plan new improvements, starting the cycle again.

All process improvement teams must have a goal or an aim, which should be time specific and measurable. It should also define which population of patients would be affected. Improving quality involves implementing the appropriate methods to close the gap between current and expected levels of quality as defined by what the standards for the organization are. All improvement requires making changes, however...
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