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What is Quality Improvement and Why Do We Need it in Primary Care?

Back to basics

A brief introduction to quality improvement

If you do not have a vast background in quality improvement, a lot of the language and application may go over your head. However, as a proud member of the NHS Sustainable Improvement - Time for Care Team, it is our aim to make quality improvement or QI as we call it more easy and accessible to you.

“While quality is subjective and based on our own individual perception, culture, value and context, in the context of healthcare, quality improvement is about making the systems we work in: Safe, effective, patient-centred, timely, efficient and equitable.”

(The Health Foundation 2013)

In a business setting, I think many would agree that quality is about meeting and exceeding the needs of our clients, patients and staff. Quality is also linked to the desire to create a competitive advantage, increased revenue and engagement, promoting a good brand image, encouraging loyalty and attracting and retaining the best talent.

I would argue that healthcare needs quality improvement to support both patient care AND its business objectives.

In its simplest terms, and in my language, quality improvement to me is about implementing a change in both a flexible and structured way. Using tools and techniques to help you embed a positive change and making it stick for as long as it is needed.

Why do we need quality improvement?

QI is about helping you to identify the problem, explore solutions, implement change cycles to see what does and doesn’t work and then creating sustainability. This approach stops us from jumping feet first into fixing a solution in which we are not really sure of the issue.

I also believe that using QI tools can create consistency, save time and money as changes are rolled out across your organisation, instead of everyone making it up without a framework as they go along.

BUT too much of any one thing is bad. We must use quality improvement sensibly and pragmatically as there are a lot of unknowns in the field of healthcare. There are also a lot of knowns that many don’t have the patience to want to find out.

The benefits of quality improvement

A colleague recently shared with me that being introduced to quality improvement has positively changed the way she worked and just the knowledge and application of just a few tools has helped her organisation, her patients and her own professional development tremendously.

Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

Access FREE Support

For more information on how the Time for Care Team can support your GP Practices or Primary Care Network, please contact me or complete this short expression of interest form here:

P.S The support is centrally funded!

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Tara Humphrey is the founder of THC Primary Care, a leading healthcare consultancy specialising in workforce transformation and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast.

Tara and her team also work with GP federations supporting the implementation of clinical services.

Tara has over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sector and has an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care and is the author of over 150 blogs.

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