In this month’s BMJ Quality and Safety the headline article focuses on the successes and limitations of quality improvement collaborative (QIC) methods in Australia. The government recently identified quality improvement in primary care as a priority, highlighting how important the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives’ (APCC) use of quality improvement collaborative methods could be if rolled out nationally.
Many advocates see QICs as the most important solution to improving quality in healthcare, and although the APCC example shows this, it also shows the need to find out which elements of QICs hold the key to their success.
The APCC example shows that the QIC methods can be successfully rolled out in Australia for a range of conditions and over an extended period of time. Adaptability has been an important part of the project’s success – many divisions of general practice are using QIC methods to achieve further improvements in different medical conditions and areas of primary care.
Another success has been the uptake of clinical software data extraction tools, which was started by the APCC and are now used across the country, and even in practices that didn’t take part in the project.
Despite the improvements this project achieved, it’s difficult to say whether this was because of changes in care or other non-clinical factors. However, it does give some practical tips that anyone thinking of implementing QICs should consider, stressing the importance of easy data collection and the teamwork in clinical settings.
This report by Knight et al shows that while QICs are often very effective, our limited knowledge of what makes them work means that they depend upon the right condition, and are only a partial solution to improving patient care.
The Health Foundation co-owns the BMJ Quality and Safety with the BMJ Group. We aim to advance research and inspire fresh thinking in a rapidly expanding area of interest to clinicians, medical managers, and policy makers around the globe.