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What is QI?

Paul Batalden has defined quality improvement as: “the combined and unceasing efforts of everyone – healthcare professionals, patients and their families, researchers, payers, planners and educators – to make the changes that will lead to better patient outcomes, better system performance and better professional development” – Batalden, P., 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 April 2021].

Quality improvement (QI) goes beyond traditional management, target setting and policy making. QI methodology is best applied when tackling complex adaptive problems – where the problem isn’t completely understood and where the answer isn’t known.

To truly achieve the improvement in quality, outcomes and cost that the healthcare system needs, we need to make this goal part of everyone’s daily work. QI helps by:

  • bringing a systematic approach to tackling complex problems
  • focusing on outcomes
  • flattening hierarchies
  • giving everyone a voice, and bringing staff and service users together to improve and redesign the way that care is provided

When done well, QI can release great creativity and innovation in tackling complex issues which services have struggled to solve for many years.

Useful references

QualityImprovementMadeSimple.pdf (

The Model for Improvement : Quality Improvement – East London NHS Foundation Trust (