How do you get clinicians involved in quality improvement? An evaluation of the Health Foundation's Engaging with Quality Initiative – a programme of work to support clinicians to drive forward quality

August 2010

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Key points

  • Any quality improvement project should have a springboard consisting of a team with sufficient capacity to manage the complexity of the project.
  • A large-scale quality improvement project should only be funded if the healthcare institution hosting that project has the necessary project management capacity, leadership, monitoring and evaluation skills to ensure that the project has the best chance of delivering and measuring improvements in the quality of healthcare, and of sharing positive results.
  • Each royal college and professional body should consider how, if at all, it wishes to provide leadership, legitimacy, organisational support and professional training in relation to quality improvement.

This is the evaluation report of our Engaging with Quality Initiative, designed to support clinicians to drive forward quality.

In 2004, the Health Foundation invited national professional bodies and specialist societies in the UK to bid for funds for projects under the Engaging with Quality Initiative. The three objectives of the Initiative were to:

  • engage clinicians in leading quality improvement projects that would achieve measurable improvements in clinical quality
  • identify effective strategies for clinical quality improvement that could be replicated and spread across the healthcare system
  • increase capacity for clinical quality measurement and improvement in the UK by developing the infrastructure.

Based on the evidence which has been gathered, this substantial report concludes that while positive outcomes in terms of measurable improvements proved to be modest, the Initiative nevertheless has brought about some considerable benefits such as:

  • engaging clinicians and service users in effective processes of change
  • engaging policy makers and decision makers
  • enhancing the capacity of the healthcare system to deliver quality improvement
  • contributing to the design and evaluations for quality improvement.

Problems encountered during the projects often centred around issues such as:

  • time pressures
  • difficulty integrating the project’s requirements into existing web-based electronic systems
  • the large amount of monitoring data collection to be done – which was not fully anticipated by many prior to the projects.

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