Evaluation and measurement for improvement in service-level quality improvement initiatives

Russell, Nicholas C.C.; Wallace, Louise M. and Ketley, Diane (2011). Evaluation and measurement for improvement in service-level quality improvement initiatives. Health Services Management Research, 24(4) pp. 182–189.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1258/hsmr.2011.011010


The National Health Service (NHS) in England, as with other health services worldwide, currently faces the need to reduce costs and to improve the quality of patient care. Evidence gathered through effective and appropriate measurement and evaluation, is essential to achieving this. Through interviews with service improvement managers and analysis of comments in a seminar of NHS staff involved in health service improvement, we found a lack of understanding regarding the definition and methodology of both measurement and evaluation, which decreases the likelihood that NHS staff will be competent to commission or provide these skills. In addition, we highlight the importance of managers assessing their organizations' 'readiness' to undergo change before embarking on a quality improvement (QI) initiative, to ensure that the initiative's impact can be adequately judged. We provide definitions of measurement for improvement and of evaluation, and propose a comparative framework from which to gauge an appropriate approach. Examples of two large-scale QI initiatives are also given, along with descriptions of some of their problems and solutions, to illustrate the use of the framework. We recommend that health service managers use the framework to determine the most appropriate approach to evaluation and measurement for improvement for their context, to ensure that their decisions are evidence based.

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