Introducing Quality Improvement Methods into Local Public Health Departments

Structured Evaluation of a Statewide Pilot Project

This article examines a quality improvement training program for public health departments in Minnesota. Using quality improvement techniques in public health departments is a major strategy to improve the field.

The authors analyzed data from the Minnesota Quality Improvement Initiative, a distance-training program that involved 195 employees from 38 local health departments. Sixty-five of these employees also took part in supported quality improvement projects between June 2007 and March 2008. To evaluate the program, researchers conducted pre- and post-program surveys that measured learner reaction, new knowledge, intention to make use of the knowledge and early outcomes.

Key Findings:

  • Respondents reported high levels of learning and satisfaction with the quality improvement teaching program, including increased knowledge of quality improvement principles, increased intention to utilize these principles, and increased belief in the relevance of quality improvement principles.
  • Six out of the eight quality improvement projects showed moderate to large improvements in quality or efficiency in preliminary outcomes.

Distance-learning quality improvement programs can be successfully utilized to improve public health employees' understanding and use of quality improvement techniques.