Quality Improvement (QI) Tools and


Quality Improvement

The process of QI strengthens performance of a process or program. Quality improvement in public health “refers to a continuous and ongoing effort to achieve measurable improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness, performance, accountability, outcomes, and other indicators of quality in services or processes which achieve equity and improve the health of the community” (Riley, et al, p. 6).

 Source: Riley, W.J., Moran, J.W., Corso, L. C., Beitsch, L.M. Bialek, R., & Cofsky, A. (2010). Defining quality improvement in public health. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, 16(1):5-7.  doi:10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181bedb49

Quick Tips

When Change is Needed, Every Person is a QI


An important part of QI is recognizing that everyone in the organization has the ability to make a change! It’s not unusual to find that “those closest to an identified problem or concern are usually the ones who know the solutions to those problems” (Bialek, Duffy, & Moran, 2009, p. 104). The following key factors that make each person a potential “QI Champion” are adapted from Chapter 9 of the Public Health Quality Improvement Handbook, Creating Lasting Change. Kathleen F. (Kay) Edwards:

  • Know that changing anything is hard! Sometimes people feel pressured to make a change and sometimes people recognize there’s a better way to do an activity or method.  It may be time to think about the reasons to do things “the way we always have” or “the way we use to” and “what are today’s needs”.
  • Build relationships throughout the agency before changes occur! Learning about what others work roles and responsibilities help everyone identify skills and knowledge important to solving problems.
  • Involve a diverse group of people in solving problems and designing change. It’s important to have traditional thinkers, those folk who can see both sides of issues and may appear flexible, and those creative, free-flowing colleagues. People deal with situations differently and difference ways of solving problems can enrich the decision and ideas!
  • Be patient! Change takes time! Knowing why a change is needed, who will be impacted (internal and external stakeholders), and potential harms and benefits are all important to tackling any change.
  •  Be an effective communicator! People are busy and wonder how they can fit QI into already busy schedules. But remind folk their solving problems every day. QI done well should be a part of everything an organization does. Simple communication suggestions include:
    • Pull together a team and set the stage for change: decide what to do!
    • Create a sense of urgency and make it happen! Help others understand the need for change and why it’s important to move quickly.
    • Empower others to act and remove as many barriers as possible providing training, support, and skill development.
    • Celebrate short-term “wins” . . . and if first attempts are not successful, determine what went wrong, readjust, and try it again!

Want more information about how to create lasting change in an organization’s QI culture? Start with a look at the Roadmap to a Quality Culture Preview at

Other QI resources can be found at


Bialek, R., Duffy, G.L., & Moran, J.W. (2009). The Public Health Quality Improvement Handbook. ASQ Quality Press: Milwaukee.

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