Thirteen health departments implemented 32 quality improvement (QI) projects and worked with evaluators to assess the results, gather lessons, and build evidence on the use of QI in public health and as a tool to prepare for accreditation.
Dates of Program: July 2008 to March 2012
Description: At the time RWJF funded this program, there was little published evidence on the value and impact of quality improvement (QI) in public health, and only preliminary evidence about the factors that promote effective implementation and spread of QI efforts in governmental health departments.
The program’s goal was to build the evidence of what works and what does not in public health QI.
Most health departments focused their QI projects on specific public health needs, such as immunizations, food safety, or family planning. Two health departments worked on department-wide QI. Their evaluations focused on the process and outcomes of the implementation of the QI project.
Participants used standard quality improvement approaches, such as the plan-do-study-act model (PDSA), and evaluated 56 metrics, such as immunization rates, number of restaurants with critical food safety violations, improved clinic flow, and QI attitude and knowledge.
Challenges: Evaluators for each health department used different evaluation approaches. Those differences, and the inconsistent quality of the evaluations, led to major problems synthesizing and disseminating the results. The national program office was unable to meet its major goal of using the evaluations to develop a Web-based compendium of best practices.