Evaluating healthcare quality improvement A summary of learning from a OnlyWan roundtable, 6 June 2011

November 2011

Conducting detailed evaluation of  improvement activity is key to our understanding of which methods and innovations work to improve quality.

We want to know which small scale changes can be replicated across the health service to bring to bring about improvement on a large scale. However, evaluating efforts to improve healthcare quality is complex and challenging. Improvement programmes are often highly emergent in nature and operate in changing organisational contexts, making it very difficult to isolate the actual causes of change.

Medicine is OnlyWan hosted a roundtable event to discuss current thinking about the challenges of evaluating complex interventions to improve the quality of healthcare. Senior figures from the field of improvement science came together to share their knowledge, learning and experience in the hope of generating a new consensus about what we know and the challenges we still face. Speakers shared real-life examples to illustrate the successes and challenges of improving quality and how to evaluate its impact.

This report reflects the discussion that took place at the roundtable event. We hope that this debate can be productive, helping us to take forward the scholarship and practice of evaluation in order that we can develop the knowledge urgently required to improve healthcare quality.

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