Aligning quality improvement to population health

  • Green S
  • Sullivan P
  • Bell D
 et al. 
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Abstract

This editorial discusses quality improvement (QI), patient satisfaction and better health outcomes for specific service users. QI methodologies have their roots in industry but have been applied in healthcare settings now for 20 years or more with some success. Although widespread evidence of a consistent association between cost reduction and improved outcomes across all healthcare settings is patchy, there is some evidence that the use of QI methodologies can lead to cost reduction. We believe that these same methods can be used to improve the health of a whole population. Most healthcare services, whether primary or secondary, have a specific catchment population. Clear identification of the population or community is therefore of paramount importance to those planning services, regardless of the healthcare system in which they are operating. Secondly, it is important to identify levels of need within the defined population so that services can be targeted to those people or areas where they have the greatest potential for meeting needs. This approach ought perhaps to be standard practice, but in reality there is often a piecemeal approach to needs assessment, with much commissioning being done on the basis of what has gone before. Reconciling high-quality outcomes for individual patients with the health and healthcare needs of whole populations requires a new approach. Those involved in the QI work, alongside clinicians, researchers, healthcare managers and commissioners, public health professionals and of course patients all share a common interest-to improve patients' experience of health care, to ensure high-quality services and to achieve the best possible health outcomes-but approach it from very different perspectives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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