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1.  The consumer quality index (CQ-index) in an accident and emergency department: development and first evaluation 
Assessment of patients’ views are essential to provide a patient-centred health service and to evaluating quality of care. As no standardized and validated system for measuring patients’ experiences in accident and emergency departments existed, we have developed the Consumer Quality index for the accident and emergency department (CQI A&E).
Qualitative research has been undertaken to determine the content validity of the CQI A&E. In order to assess psychometric characteristics an 84-item questionnaire was sent to 653 patients who had attended a large A&E in the Netherlands. Also, fifty importance questions were added to determine relevance of the questions and for future calculations of improvement scores. Exploratory factor analysis was applied to detect the domains of the questionnaire.
Survey data of 304 (47%) patients were used for the analysis. The first exploratory factor analysis resulted in three domains based on 13 items: ‘Attitude of the healthcare professionals’, ‘Environment and impression of the A&E’ and ‘Respect for and explanation to the patient’. The first two had an acceptable internal consistency. The second analysis, included 24 items grouped into 5 domains: ‘Attitude of the healthcare professionals’, ‘Information and explanation’, ‘Environment of the A&E’,’Leaving the A&E’ and ‘General information and rapidity of care’. All factors were internal consistent. According to the patients, the three most important aspects in healthcare performance in the A&E were: trust in the competence of the healthcare professionals, hygiene in the A&E and patients’ health care expectations. In general, the highest improvement scores concerned patient information.
The Consumer Quality index for the accident and emergency department measures patients’ experiences of A&E healthcare performance. Preliminary psychometric characteristics are sufficient to justify further research into reliability and validity.
PMCID: PMC3447703  PMID: 22929061
Factor analysis, statistical; Emergency medical services; Patient experiences; Patient satisfaction, statistics and numerical data; Questionnaires, standards; Health care surveys
2.  Identifying continuous quality improvement publications: what makes an improvement intervention ‘CQI’? 
BMJ quality & safety  2011;20(12):1011-1019.
The term continuous quality improvement (CQI) is often used to refer to a method for improving care, but no consensus statement exists on the definition of CQI. Evidence reviews are critical for advancing science, and depend on reliable definitions for article selection.
As a preliminary step towards improving CQI evidence reviews, this study aimed to use expert panel methods to identify key CQI definitional features and develop and test a screening instrument for reliably identifying articles with the key features. We used a previously published method to identify 106 articles meeting the general definition of a quality improvement intervention (QII) from 9427 electronically identified articles from PubMed. Two raters then applied a six-item CQI screen to the 106 articles.
Per cent agreement ranged from 55.7% to 75.5% for the six items, and reviewer-adjusted intra-class correlation ranged from 0.43 to 0.62. ‘Feedback of systematically collected data’ was the most common feature (64%), followed by being at least ‘somewhat’ adapted to local conditions (61%), feedback at meetings involving participant leaders (46%), using an iterative development process (40%), being at least ‘somewhat’ data driven (34%), and using a recognised change method (28%). All six features were present in 14.2% of QII articles.
We conclude that CQI features can be extracted from QII articles with reasonable reliability, but only a small proportion of QII articles include all features. Further consensus development is needed to support meaningful use of the term CQI for scientific communication.
PMCID: PMC3228263  PMID: 21727199
Continuous quality improvement; healthcare quality improvement; organisation; PDSA; research
3.  CQI-2 — a new measure of holistic interpersonal care in primary care consultations 
The Consultation Quality Index (CQI) is a holistic quality marker for GPs based on patient enablement, continuity of the care and consultation length.
To evaluate the CQI-2, a new version of the CQI incorporating a process measure of GP empathy (the Consultation and Relational Empathy Measure).
Design of study
Cross-sectional questionnaire study.
General practice in the west of Scotland.
Empathy, enablement, continuity, and consultation length were measured in 3044 consultations involving 26 GPs in 26 different practices in the west of Scotland. CQI-2 scores were calculated and correlated with additional data on GPs' and patients' attitudes. Comparisons were also made with the UK–wide data from which the original CQI had been calculated.
CQI-2 scores were independent of deprivation, access, demographics, and case-mix. GPs with lower CQI-2 scores valued empathy and longer consultations less than these GPs with higher CQI-2 scores. ‘Below average CQI-2’ GPs (those in the bottom 25%) also felt less valued by patients and colleagues. Patients' showed less confidence in and gained less satisfaction from these doctors. Data ranges from the study were comparable with the UK data ranges used to construct the original CQI.
The CQI-2 is a new measure of holistic interpersonal care. In a small but representative sample of GPs it appears to differentiate between below and above average doctors. CQI-2 scores may reflect important aspects of morale, core values and patient-centred care. There may be potential for its use as part of professional development and as a component of the general medical services contract.
PMCID: PMC1832233  PMID: 16611514
consultation; empathy; enablement; holistic healthcare; quality of healthcare
4.  Patients' experiences with quality of hospital care: the Consumer Quality Index Cataract Questionnaire 
BMC Ophthalmology  2007;7:14.
Patients' feedback is of great importance in health care policy decisions. The Consumer Quality Index Cataract Questionnaire (CQI Cataract) was used to measure patients' experiences with quality of care after a cataract operation. This study aims to evaluate the reliability and the dimensional structure of this questionnaire and assesses its ability to measure differences between hospitals in patients' experiences with quality of care.
Survey data of 4,635 respondents were available. An exploratory factor analysis was performed to evaluate the construct validity of the questionnaire and item-correlations and inter-factor correlations were calculated. Secondly, Cronbach's alpha coefficients were calculated to assess the internal consistency of the scales. Thirdly, to evaluate the ability of the questionnaire to discriminate between hospitals, multilevel analyses were performed with patients hierarchically nested within hospitals.
Exploratory factor analysis resulted in 14 quality of care items subdivided over three factors (i.e. communication with ophthalmologist, communication with nurses, and communication about medication). Cronbach's alpha coefficients of 0.89, 0.76 and 0.79 indicated good internal consistency. Multilevel analyses showed that the questionnaire was able to measure differences in patients' experiences with hospital care regarding communication with ophthalmologist and communication about medication. In addition, there was variation between hospitals regarding ophthalmologist ratings, hospital ratings and one dichotomous information item.
These findings suggest that the CQI Cataract is a reliable and valid instrument. This instrument can be used to measure patients' experiences with three domains of hospital care after a cataract operation and is able to assess differences in evaluated care between hospitals.
PMCID: PMC2093924  PMID: 17877840
5.  The Consumer Quality Index Hip Knee Questionnaire measuring patients' experiences with quality of care after a total hip or knee arthroplasty 
The Dutch Consumer Quality Index Hip Knee Questionnaire (CQI Hip Knee) was used to assess patients' experiences with and evaluations of quality of care after a total hip (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The aim of this study is to evaluate the construct validity and internal consistency reliability of this new instrument and to assess its ability to measure differences in quality of care between hospitals.
Survey data of 1,675 subjects who underwent a THA or TKA were used to evaluate the psychometric properties. Exploratory factor analyses were performed and item-total correlations and inter-factor correlations were calculated to assess the construct validity of the instrument. Reliability analyses included tests of internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha coefficients). Finally, multilevel analyses were performed to assess the ability of the instrument to discriminate between hospitals in quality of care.
Exploratory factor analyses indicated that the survey consisted of 21 items measuring five aspects of care (i.e. communication with nurses, communication with doctors, communication with general practitioner, communication about new medication, and pain control). Cronbach's alpha coefficients ranged from 0.76 to 0.90 indicating good internal consistency. The survey's ability to discriminate between hospitals was partly supported by multilevel analysis. Two scales (i.e. communication with nurses and communication with doctors) were able to measure differences between hospitals with respect to patients' experiences with quality of care. Logistic multilevel analyses indicated that hospitals explained part of the variation between patients in receiving information.
These findings suggest that the CQI Hip Knee is reliable and valid for use in Dutch health care. Health care providers or health plans can use this survey to measure patients' experiences with hospital care and to identify variations in care between hospitals.
PMCID: PMC1876799  PMID: 17462084
6.  The quality of maternity care services as experienced by women in the Netherlands 
Maternity care is all care in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. In the Netherlands maternity care is provided by midwives and general practitioners (GPs) in primary care and midwives and gynecologists in secondary care. To be able to interpret women's experience with the quality of maternity care, it is necessary to take into account their 'care path', that is: their route through the care system.
In the Netherlands a new tool is being developed to evaluate the quality of care from the perspective of clients. The tool is called: 'Consumer Quality Index' or CQI and is, within a standardized and systematic framework, tailored to specific health care issues.
Within the framework of developing a CQI Maternity Care, data were gathered about the care women in the Netherlands received during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. In this paper the quality of maternity care in the Netherlands is presented, as experienced by women at different stages of their care path.
A sample of 1,248 pregnant clients of four insurance companies, with their due date in early April 2007, received a postal survey in the third trimester of pregnancy (response 793). Responders to the first questionnaire received a second questionnaire twelve weeks later, on average four weeks after delivery (response 632). Based on care provider and place of birth the 'care path' of the women is described. With factor analysis and reliability analysis five composite measures indicating the quality of treatment by the care provider at different stages of the care path have been constructed. Overall ratings relate to eight different aspects of care, varying from antenatal care by a midwife or GP to care related to neonatal screening.
41.5 percent of respondents remained in primary care throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and the postpartum period, receiving care from a midwife or general practitioner, 31.3% of respondents gave birth at home. The majority of women (58.5%) experienced referral from one care provider to another, i.e. from primary to secondary care or reverse, at least once. All but two percent of women had one or more ultrasound scans during pregnancy. The composite measures for the quality of treatment in different settings and by different care providers showed that women, regardless of parity, were very positive about the quality of the maternity care they received. Quality-of-treatment scores were high: on average 3.75 on a scale ranging from 1 to 4. Overall ratings on a 0 – 10 scale for quality of care during the antenatal period and during labor, birth and the postpartum period were high as well, on average 8.36.
The care path of women in maternity care was seldom straight forward. The majority of pregnant women switched from primary to secondary care and back at least once, during pregnancy or during labor and birth or both.
The results of the quality measures indicate that the quality of care as experienced by women is high throughout the care system. But with regard to the care during labor and birth the quality of care scores are higher when women know their care provider, when they give birth at home, when they give birth in primary care and when they are assisted by their own midwife.
PMCID: PMC2689853  PMID: 19426525
7.  Psychiatric and nonpsychiatric facilities in the care of psychogeriatric patients. 
The care of elderly patients who are mentally impaired requires reorganization in the delivery of mental health services to these patients. In this paper recommendations are made for the improvement of such services. These include the development of comprehensive psychogeriatric assessment services, which should be based mainly in general hospitals, the rationalization of the roles of facilities that provide nonpsychiatric long-term care, the development of specialized facilities for demented elderly patients, and a focus on education in psychogeriatrics for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in medicine and in other health care professions.
PMCID: PMC1346704  PMID: 3967158
8.  Improvement in rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease management and prevention using a health centre-based continuous quality improvement approach 
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) remains a major health concern for Aboriginal Australians. A key component of RHD control is prevention of recurrent acute rheumatic fever (ARF) using long-term secondary prophylaxis with intramuscular benzathine penicillin (BPG). This is the most important and cost-effective step in RHD control. However, there are significant challenges to effective implementation of secondary prophylaxis programs. This project aimed to increase understanding and improve quality of RHD care through development and implementation of a continuous quality improvement (CQI) strategy.
We used a CQI strategy to promote implementation of national best-practice ARF/RHD management guidelines at primary health care level in Indigenous communities of the Northern Territory (NT), Australia, 2008–2010. Participatory action research methods were employed to identify system barriers to delivery of high quality care. This entailed facilitated discussion with primary care staff aided by a system assessment tool (SAT). Participants were encouraged to develop and implement strategies to overcome identified barriers, including better record-keeping, triage systems and strategies for patient follow-up. To assess performance, clinical records were audited at baseline, then annually for two years. Key performance indicators included proportion of people receiving adequate secondary prophylaxis (≥80% of scheduled 4-weekly penicillin injections) and quality of documentation.
Six health centres participated, servicing approximately 154 people with ARF/RHD. Improvements occurred in indicators of service delivery including proportion of people receiving ≥40% of their scheduled BPG (increasing from 81/116 [70%] at baseline to 84/103 [82%] in year three, p = 0.04), proportion of people reviewed by a doctor within the past two years (112/154 [73%] and 134/156 [86%], p = 0.003), and proportion of people who received influenza vaccination (57/154 [37%] to 86/156 [55%], p = 0.001). However, the proportion receiving ≥80% of scheduled BPG did not change. Documentation in medical files improved: ARF episode documentation increased from 31/55 (56%) to 50/62 (81%) (p = 0.004), and RHD risk category documentation from 87/154 (56%) to 103/145 (76%) (p < 0.001). Large differences in performance were noted between health centres, reflected to some extent in SAT scores.
A CQI process using a systems approach and participatory action research methodology can significantly improve delivery of ARF/RHD care.
PMCID: PMC3878366  PMID: 24350582
Continuous quality improvement; Rheumatic fever; Rheumatic heart disease; Secondary prophylaxis
9.  Automated key process monitors for patient care documentation. 
Complete, accurate and timely patient care documentation is an essential part of the practice of medicine. As with any other process in medicine or industry, continuous quality improvement (CQI) is essential to assure the highest quality at the lowest cost. CQI requires objective key process measures that can be assessed routinely. A set of key process monitors designed to assess completeness, accuracy and timeliness were created based on local, regional and national standards. Feasibility was assessed in the LDS Hospital Emergency Department using 31,429 patient visits in the 18 months from June 1995 to November 1996. The logic of the score was programmed into SQL scripts and run against an Oracle database containing the patient care documentation. The results indicate that the chosen key process monitors can be used to provide real time assessment of the patient care documentation process. The general concepts of the key process measures of completeness, accuracy and timeliness are generalizable to many areas of medicine. The overall score provides one method of easily tracking departmental performance while the overall process monitoring database allows powerful, in-depth analysis of individual components of the process. It is recommended that such automated process monitoring tools be integrated into future clinical information systems.
PMCID: PMC2232326  PMID: 9929223
10.  Measuring client experiences in long-term care in the Netherlands: a pilot study with the Consumer Quality Index Long-term Care 
This study aims to describe the development, testing and optimization of a new standard instrument, the Consumer Quality Index (CQ-index®) Long-term Care, for measuring client experiences with long-term care in the Netherlands.
Three versions of the CQ-index questionnaires and protocols for study sampling and data collection were developed, designed for interviews with residents of nursing or residential care homes and postal surveys among representatives of psychogeriatric residents and homecare clients. From July to November 2006 a pilot study was conducted among 2,697 clients of 68 nursing or residential care homes, 2,164 representatives of clients in 57 psychogeriatric care institutions, and 1,462 clients of 19 homecare organizations. We performed psychometric analyses and descriptive analyses, and evaluated the pilot study.
The pilot study showed the feasibility and usability of the instruments, supported the multidimensionality of the questionnaires and showed first findings on client experiences and possibilities for quality improvement. Nine scales applied to all care settings: shared decision making, attitude and courtesy, information, body care, competence and safety of care, activities, autonomy, mental well-being, and availability of personnel. The pilot resulted in three optimized questionnaires and recommendations for nationwide implementation.
The CQ-index® Long-term Care provides a good basis to investigate the quality of nursing homes, residential care homes and homecare from the clients' perspective. This standardized instrument enables a nationwide comparison of the quality of long-term care for the purpose of transparency and quality assurance.
PMCID: PMC2907762  PMID: 20384989
11.  Using real time process measurements to reduce catheter related bloodstream infections in the intensive care unit 
Quality & safety in health care  2005;14(4):295-302.

Problem: Measuring a process of care in real time is essential for continuous quality improvement (CQI). Our inability to measure the process of central venous catheter (CVC) care in real time prevented CQI efforts aimed at reducing catheter related bloodstream infections (CR-BSIs) from these devices.
Design: A system was developed for measuring the process of CVC care in real time. We used these new process measurements to continuously monitor the system, guide CQI activities, and deliver performance feedback to providers.
Setting: Adult medical intensive care unit (MICU).
Key measures for improvement: Measured process of CVC care in real time; CR-BSI rate and time between CR-BSI events; and performance feedback to staff.
Strategies for change: An interdisciplinary team developed a standardized, user friendly nursing checklist for CVC insertion. Infection control practitioners scanned the completed checklists into a computerized database, thereby generating real time measurements for the process of CVC insertion. Armed with these new process measurements, the team optimized the impact of a multifaceted intervention aimed at reducing CR-BSIs.
Effects of change: The new checklist immediately provided real time measurements for the process of CVC insertion. These process measures allowed the team to directly monitor adherence to evidence-based guidelines. Through continuous process measurement, the team successfully overcame barriers to change, reduced the CR-BSI rate, and improved patient safety. Two years after the introduction of the checklist the CR-BSI rate remained at a historic low.
Lessons learnt: Measuring the process of CVC care in real time is feasible in the ICU. When trying to improve care, real time process measurements are an excellent tool for overcoming barriers to change and enhancing the sustainability of efforts. To continually improve patient safety, healthcare organizations should continually measure their key clinical processes in real time.
PMCID: PMC1744064  PMID: 16076796
12.  Promoting clinical involvement in hospital quality improvement efforts: the effects of top management, board, and physician leadership. 
Health Services Research  1997;32(4):491-510.
STUDY QUESTION: An examination of the effects of top management, board, and physician leadership for quality on the extent of clinical involvement in hospital CQI/TQM efforts. DATA SOURCES: A sample of 2,193 acute care community hospitals, created by merging data from a 1989 national survey on hospital governance and a 1993 national survey on hospital quality improvement efforts. STUDY DESIGN: Hypotheses were tested using Heckman's two-stage modeling approach. Four dimensions of clinical involvement in CQI/TQM were examined: physician participation in formal QI training, physician participation in QI teams, clinical departments with formally organized QA/QI project teams, and clinical conditions and procedures for which quality of care data are used by formally organized QA/QI project teams. Leadership measures included CEO involvement in CQI/TQM, board quality monitoring, board activity in quality improvement, active-staff physician involvement in governance, and physician-at-large involvement in governance. Relevant control variables were included in the analysis. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Measures of top management leadership for quality and board leadership for quality showed significant, positive relationships with measures of clinical involvement in CQI/TQM. Active-staff physician involvement in governance showed positive, significant relationships with clinical involvement measures, while physician-at-large involvement in governance showed significant, negative relationships. CONCLUSIONS: Study results suggest that leadership from the top promotes clinical involvement in CQI/TQM. Further, results indicate that leadership for quality in healthcare settings may issue from several sources, including managers, boards, and physician leaders.
PMCID: PMC1070207  PMID: 9327815
13.  Dutch healthcare reform: did it result in performance improvement of health plans? A comparison of consumer experiences over time 
Many countries have introduced elements of managed competition in their healthcare system with the aim to accomplish more efficient and demand-driven health care. Simultaneously, generating and reporting of comparative healthcare information has become an important quality-improvement instrument. We examined whether the introduction of managed competition in the Dutch healthcare system along with public reporting of quality information was associated with performance improvement in health plans.
Experiences of consumers with their health plan were measured in four consecutive years (2005-2008) using the CQI® health plan instrument 'Experiences with Healthcare and Health Insurer'. Data were available of 13,819 respondents (response = 45%) of 30 health plans in 2005, of 8,266 respondents (response = 39%) of 32 health plans in 2006, of 8,088 respondents (response = 34%) of 32 health plans in 2007, and of 7,183 respondents (response = 31%) of 32 health plans in 2008. We performed multilevel regression analyses with three levels: respondent, health plan and year of measurement. Per year and per quality aspect, we estimated health plan means while adjusting for consumers' age, education and self-reported health status. We tested for linear and quadratic time effects using chi-squares.
The overall performance of health plans increased significantly from 2005 to 2008 on four quality aspects. For three other aspects, we found that the overall performance first declined and then increased from 2006 to 2008, but the performance in 2008 was not better than in 2005. The overall performance of health plans did not improve more often for quality aspects that were identified as important areas of improvement in the first year of measurement. On six out of seven aspects, the performance of health plans that scored below average in 2005 increased more than the performance of health plans that scored average and/or above average in that year.
We found mixed results concerning the effects of managed competition on the performance of health plans. To determine whether managed competition in the healthcare system leads to quality improvement in health plans, it is important to examine whether and for what reasons health plans initiate improvement efforts.
PMCID: PMC2761896  PMID: 19761580
14.  Impacts of Evidence-Based Quality Improvement on Depression in Primary Care: A Randomized Experiment 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2006;21(10):1027-1035.
Previous studies testing continuous quality improvement (CQI) for depression showed no effects. Methods for practices to self-improve depression care performance are needed. We assessed the impacts of evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI), a modification of CQI, as carried out by 2 different health care systems, and collected qualitative data on the design and implementation process.
Evaluate impacts of EBQI on practice-wide depression care and outcomes.
Practice-level randomized experiment comparing EBQI with usual care.
Six Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and 3 Veterans Administration primary care practices randomly assigned to EBQI teams (6 practices) or usual care (3 practices). Practices included 245 primary care clinicians and 250,000 patients.
Researchers assisted system senior leaders to identify priorities for EBQI teams; initiated the manual-based EBQI process; and provided references and tools.
Five hundred and sixty-seven representative patients with major depression.
Appropriate treatment, depression, functional status, and satisfaction.
Depressed patients in EBQI practices showed a trend toward more appropriate treatment compared with those in usual care (46.0% vs 39.9% at 6 months, P = .07), but no significant improvement in 12-month depression symptom outcomes (27.0% vs 36.1% poor depression outcome, P = .18). Social functioning improved significantly (mean score 65.0 vs 56.8 at 12 months, P = .02); physical functioning did not.
Evidence-based quality improvement had perceptible, but modest, effects on practice performance for patients with depression. The modest improvements, along with qualitative data, identify potential future directions for improving CQI research and practice.
PMCID: PMC1831644  PMID: 16836631
quality improvement; depression; continuous quality management; social function
15.  Informatics: essential infrastructure for quality assessment and improvement in nursing. 
In recent decades there have been major advances in the creation and implementation of information technologies and in the development of measures of health care quality. The premise of this article is that informatics provides essential infrastructure for quality assessment and improvement in nursing. In this context, the term quality assessment and improvement comprises both short-term processes such as continuous quality improvement (CQI) and long-term outcomes management. This premise is supported by 1) presentation of a historical perspective on quality assessment and improvement; 2) delineation of the types of data required for quality assessment and improvement; and 3) description of the current and potential uses of information technology in the acquisition, storage, transformation, and presentation of quality data, information, and knowledge.
PMCID: PMC116251  PMID: 7614118
16.  Continuous quality improvement and medical informatics: the convergent synergy. 
Continuous quality improvement (CQI) and medical informatics specialists need to converge their efforts to create synergy for improving health care. Health care CQI needs medical informatics' expertise and technology to build the information systems needed to manage health care organizations according to quality improvement principles. Medical informatics needs CQI's philosophy and methods to build health care information systems that can evolve to meet the changing needs of clinicians and other stakeholders. This paper explores the philosophical basis for convergence of CQI and medical informatics efforts, and then examines a clinical computer workstation development project that is applying a combined approach.
PMCID: PMC2248128  PMID: 1482948
17.  Dutch healthcare reform: did it result in better patient experiences in hospitals? a comparison of the consumer quality index over time 
In 2006, the Dutch hospital market was reformed to create a more efficient delivery system through managed competition. To allow competition on quality, patient experiences were measured using the Consumer Quality index (CQI). We study whether public reporting and competition had an effect on the CQI between 2006 and 2009.
We analyzed 8,311 respondents covering 31 hospitals in 2006, 22,333 respondents covering 78 hospitals in 2007 and 24,246 respondents covering 94 hospitals in 2009. We describe CQI trends over the period 2006-2009. In addition we compare hospitals that varied in the level of competition they faced and hospitals that were forced to publish CQI results publicly and those that were not. We corrected for observable covariates between hospital respondents using a multi level linear regression. We used the Herfindahl Hirschman Index to indicate the level of competition.
Between 2006 and 2009 hospitals showed a CQI improvement of 0.034 (p < 0.05) to 0.060 (p < 0.01) points on a scale between one and four. Hospitals that were forced to publish their scores showed a further improvement of 0.027 (p < 0.01) to 0.030 (p < 0.05). Furthermore, hospitals that faced more competition from geographically close competitors showed a more pronounced improvement of CQI-scores 0.004 to 0.05 than other hospitals (p < 0.001).
Our results show that patients reported improved experiences measured by the CQI between 2006 and 2009. CQI levels improve at a faster rate in areas with higher levels of competition. Hospitals confronted with forced public publication of their CQI responded by enhancing the experiences of their patients.
PMCID: PMC3326705  PMID: 22443174
18.  Understanding uptake of continuous quality improvement in Indigenous primary health care: lessons from a multi-site case study of the Audit and Best Practice for Chronic Disease project 
Experimentation with continuous quality improvement (CQI) processes is well underway in Indigenous Australian primary health care. To date, little research into how health organizations take up, support, and embed these complex innovations is available on which services can draw to inform implementation. In this paper, we examine the practices and processes in the policy and organisational contexts, and aim to explore the ways in which they interact to support and/or hinder services' participation in a large scale Indigenous primary health care CQI program.
We took a theory-driven approach, drawing on literature on the theory and effectiveness of CQI systems and the Greenhalgh diffusion of innovation framework. Data included routinely collected regional and service profile data; uptake of tools and progress through the first CQI cycle, and data collected quarterly from hub coordinators on their perceptions of barriers and enablers. A total of 48 interviews were also conducted with key people involved in the development, dissemination, and implementation of the Audit and Best Practice for Chronic Disease (ABCD) project. We compiled the various data, conducted thematic analyses, and developed an in-depth narrative account of the processes of uptake and diffusion into services.
Uptake of CQI was a complex and messy process that happened in fits and starts, was often characterised by conflicts and tensions, and was iterative, reactive, and transformational. Despite initial enthusiasm, the mixed successes during the first cycle were associated with the interaction of features of the environment, the service, the quality improvement process, and the stakeholders, which operated to produce a set of circumstances that either inhibited or enabled the process of change. Organisations had different levels of capacity to mobilize resources that could shift the balance toward supporting implementation. Different forms of leadership and organisational linkages were critical to success. The Greenhalgh framework provided a useful starting point for investigation, but we believe it is more a descriptive than explanatory model. As such, it has limitations in the extent to which it could assist us in understanding the interactions of the practices and processes that we observed at different levels of the system.
Taking up CQI involved engaging multiple stakeholders in new relationships that could support services to construct shared meaning and purpose, operationalise key concepts and tools, and develop and embed new practices into services systems and routines. Promoting quality improvement requires a system approach and organization-wide commitment. At the organization level, a formal high-level mandate, leadership at all levels, and resources to support implementation are needed. At the broader system level, governance arrangements that can fulfil a number of policy objectives related to articulating the linkages between CQI and other aspects of the regulatory, financing, and performance frameworks within the health system would help define a role and vision for quality improvement.
PMCID: PMC2847538  PMID: 20226066
19.  How can we recognize continuous quality improvement? 
Continuous quality improvement (CQI) methods are foundational approaches to improving healthcare delivery. Publications using the term CQI, however, are methodologically heterogeneous, and labels other than CQI are used to signify relevant approaches. Standards for identifying the use of CQI based on its key methodological features could enable more effective learning across quality improvement (QI) efforts. The objective was to identify essential methodological features for recognizing CQI.
Previous work with a 12-member international expert panel identified reliably abstracted CQI methodological features. We tested which features met rigorous a priori standards as essential features of CQI using a three-phase online modified-Delphi process.
Primarily United States and Canada.
119 QI experts randomly assigned into four on-line panels.
Participants rated CQI features and discussed their answers using online, anonymous and asynchronous discussion boards. We analyzed ratings quantitatively and discussion threads qualitatively.
Main outcome measure(s)
Panel consensus on definitional CQI features.
Seventy-nine (66%) panelists completed the process. Thirty-three completers self-identified as QI researchers, 18 as QI practitioners and 28 as both equally. The features ‘systematic data guided activities,’ ‘designing with local conditions in mind’ and ‘iterative development and testing’ met a priori standards as essential CQI features. Qualitative analyses showed cross-cutting themes focused on differences between QI and CQI.
We found consensus among a broad group of CQI researchers and practitioners on three features as essential for identifying QI work more specifically as ‘CQI.’ All three features are needed as a minimum standard for recognizing CQI methods.
PMCID: PMC3914565  PMID: 24311732
continuous quality improvement; quality improvement; consultants; health care organization
20.  Can continuous quality improvement be assessed using randomized trials? [see comment] 
Health Services Research  2000;35(3):687-700.
STUDY QUESTION: Continuous quality improvement (CQI) has been implemented at least to some degree in many health care settings, yet randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of CQI are rare. We ask whether, when, and how RCTs of CQI might be designed. STUDY DESIGN: We consider two applications of CQI: as a general philosophy of management and (by analogy with the use of conceptual models from the behavioral sciences) as a conceptual model for developing specific interventions. The example of warfarin therapy for stroke prevention among patients with atrial fibrillation is used throughout. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: While it is impractical to use RCTs to study CQI as a general management philosophy, RCT methodology is appropriate for studying CQI as a conceptual model for generating interventions. RCTs of CQI might be considered when the process change under consideration is very large, its implications (e.g., in terms of cost, outcomes of care, etc.) are very great, and the best approach is uncertain. When designing RCTs of CQI, critical decisions include (1) the unit of randomization; (2) whether the focus is on CQI as a method for generating interventions or, instead, is on specific interventions in and of themselves; and (3) the flexibility available to local personnel to modify the intervention's operational details. CONCLUSIONS: RCTs of CQI as a conceptual model for generating interventions are feasible.
PMCID: PMC1089142  PMID: 10966090
21.  Measuring organizational and individual factors thought to influence the success of quality improvement in primary care: a systematic review of instruments 
Continuous quality improvement (CQI) methods are widely used in healthcare; however, the effectiveness of the methods is variable, and evidence about the extent to which contextual and other factors modify effects is limited. Investigating the relationship between these factors and CQI outcomes poses challenges for those evaluating CQI, among the most complex of which relate to the measurement of modifying factors. We aimed to provide guidance to support the selection of measurement instruments by systematically collating, categorising, and reviewing quantitative self-report instruments.
Data sources: We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Health and Psychosocial Instruments, reference lists of systematic reviews, and citations and references of the main report of instruments. Study selection: The scope of the review was determined by a conceptual framework developed to capture factors relevant to evaluating CQI in primary care (the InQuIRe framework). Papers reporting development or use of an instrument measuring a construct encompassed by the framework were included. Data extracted included instrument purpose; theoretical basis, constructs measured and definitions; development methods and assessment of measurement properties. Analysis and synthesis: We used qualitative analysis of instrument content and our initial framework to develop a taxonomy for summarising and comparing instruments. Instrument content was categorised using the taxonomy, illustrating coverage of the InQuIRe framework. Methods of development and evidence of measurement properties were reviewed for instruments with potential for use in primary care.
We identified 186 potentially relevant instruments, 152 of which were analysed to develop the taxonomy. Eighty-four instruments measured constructs relevant to primary care, with content measuring CQI implementation and use (19 instruments), organizational context (51 instruments), and individual factors (21 instruments). Forty-one instruments were included for full review. Development methods were often pragmatic, rather than systematic and theory-based, and evidence supporting measurement properties was limited.
Many instruments are available for evaluating CQI, but most require further use and testing to establish their measurement properties. Further development and use of these measures in evaluations should increase the contribution made by individual studies to our understanding of CQI and enhance our ability to synthesise evidence for informing policy and practice.
PMCID: PMC3573896  PMID: 23241168
Continuous quality improvement; Primary care; Evaluation; Systematic review; Measurement; Instrument; Conceptual framework; Theoretical model; Intervention fidelity; Organizational context
22.  Study protocol: Audit and Best Practice for Chronic Disease Extension (ABCDE) Project 
A growing body of international literature points to the importance of a system approach to improve the quality of care in primary health care settings. Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) concepts and techniques provide a theoretically coherent and practical way for primary care organisations to identify, address, and overcome the barriers to improvements. The Audit and Best Practice for Chronic Disease (ABCD) study, a CQI-based quality improvement project conducted in Australia's Northern Territory, has demonstrated significant improvements in primary care service systems, in the quality of clinical service delivery and in patient outcomes related to chronic illness care. The aims of the extension phase of this study are to examine factors that influence uptake and sustainability of this type of CQI activity in a variety of Indigenous primary health care organisations in Australia, and to assess the impact of collaborative CQI approaches on prevention and management of chronic illness and health outcomes in Indigenous communities.
The study will be conducted in 40–50 Indigenous community health centres from 4 States/Territories (Northern Territory, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland) over a five year period. The project will adopt a participatory, quality improvement approach that features annual cycles of: 1) organisational system assessment and audits of clinical records; 2) feedback to and interpretation of results with participating health centre staff; 3) action planning and goal setting by health centre staff to achieve system changes; and 4) implementation of strategies for change. System assessment will be carried out using a System Assessment Tool and in-depth interviews of key informants. Clinical audit tools include two essential tools that focus on diabetes care audit and preventive service audit, and several optional tools focusing on audits of hypertension, heart disease, renal disease, primary mental health care and health promotion.
The project will be carried out in a form of collaborative characterised by a sequence of annual learning cycles with action periods for CQI activities between each learning cycle.
Key outcome measures include uptake and integration of CQI activities into routine service activity, state of system development, delivery of evidence-based services, intermediate patient outcomes (e.g. blood pressure and glucose control), and health outcomes (complications, hospitalisations and mortality).
The ABCD Extension project will contribute directly to the evidence base on effectiveness of collaborative CQI approaches on prevention and management of chronic disease in Australia's Indigenous communities, and to inform the operational and policy environments that are required to incorporate CQI activities into routine practice.
PMCID: PMC2556328  PMID: 18799011
23.  Benchmarking: A Method for Continuous Quality Improvement in Health 
Healthcare Policy  2012;7(4):e101-e119.
Benchmarking, a management approach for implementing best practices at best cost, is a recent concept in the healthcare system. The objectives of this paper are to better understand the concept and its evolution in the healthcare sector, to propose an operational definition, and to describe some French and international experiences of benchmarking in the healthcare sector. To this end, we reviewed the literature on this approach's emergence in the industrial sector, its evolution, its fields of application and examples of how it has been used in the healthcare sector.
Benchmarking is often thought to consist simply of comparing indicators and is not perceived in its entirety, that is, as a tool based on voluntary and active collaboration among several organizations to create a spirit of competition and to apply best practices. The key feature of benchmarking is its integration within a comprehensive and participatory policy of continuous quality improvement (CQI). Conditions for successful benchmarking focus essentially on careful preparation of the process, monitoring of the relevant indicators, staff involvement and inter-organizational visits.
Compared to methods previously implemented in France (CQI and collaborative projects), benchmarking has specific features that set it apart as a healthcare innovation. This is especially true for healthcare or medical–social organizations, as the principle of inter-organizational visiting is not part of their culture. Thus, this approach will need to be assessed for feasibility and acceptability before it is more widely promoted.
PMCID: PMC3359088  PMID: 23634166
24.  Measuring team factors thought to influence the success of quality improvement in primary care: a systematic review of instruments 
Measuring team factors in evaluations of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) may provide important information for enhancing CQI processes and outcomes; however, the large number of potentially relevant factors and associated measurement instruments makes inclusion of such measures challenging. This review aims to provide guidance on the selection of instruments for measuring team-level factors by systematically collating, categorizing, and reviewing quantitative self-report instruments.
Data sources: We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Health and Psychosocial Instruments; reference lists of systematic reviews; and citations and references of the main report of instruments. Study selection: To determine the scope of the review, we developed and used a conceptual framework designed to capture factors relevant to evaluating CQI in primary care (the InQuIRe framework). We included papers reporting development or use of an instrument measuring factors relevant to teamwork. Data extracted included instrument purpose; theoretical basis, constructs measured and definitions; development methods and assessment of measurement properties. Analysis and synthesis: We used qualitative analysis of instrument content and our initial framework to develop a taxonomy for summarizing and comparing instruments. Instrument content was categorized using the taxonomy, illustrating coverage of the InQuIRe framework. Methods of development and evidence of measurement properties were reviewed for instruments with potential for use in primary care.
We identified 192 potentially relevant instruments, 170 of which were analyzed to develop the taxonomy. Eighty-one instruments measured constructs relevant to CQI teams in primary care, with content covering teamwork context (45 instruments measured enabling conditions or attitudes to teamwork), team process (57 instruments measured teamwork behaviors), and team outcomes (59 instruments measured perceptions of the team or its effectiveness). Forty instruments were included for full review, many with a strong theoretical basis. Evidence supporting measurement properties was limited.
Existing instruments cover many of the factors hypothesized to contribute to QI success. With further testing, use of these instruments measuring team factors in evaluations could aid our understanding of the influence of teamwork on CQI outcomes. Greater consistency in the factors measured and choice of measurement instruments is required to enable synthesis of findings for informing policy and practice.
PMCID: PMC3602018  PMID: 23410500
Continuous quality improvement; Primary care; Evaluation; Systematic review; Measurement; Instrument; Conceptual framework; Taxonomy; Teamwork; Team functioning
25.  The calculation of quality indicators for long term care facilities in 8 countries (SHELTER project) 
Performance indicators in the long term care sector are important to evaluate the efficiency and quality of care delivery. We are, however, still far from being able to refer to a common set of indicators at the European level.
We therefore demonstrate the calculation of Long Term Care Facility Quality Indicators (LTCFQIs) from data of the European Services and Health for Elderly in Long TERm Care (SHELTER) project. We explain how risk factors are taken into account and show how LTC facilities at facility and country level can be compared on quality of care using thresholds and a Quality Indicator sum measure.
The indicators of Long Term Care Facility quality of care are calculated based on methods that have been developed in the US. The values of these Quality Indicators (QIs) are risk adjusted on the basis of covariates resulting from logistic regression analysis on each of the QIs. To enhance the comparison of QIs between facilities and countries we have used the method of percentile thresholds and developed a QI sum measure based on percentile outcomes.
In SHELTER data have been collected with the interRAI Long Term Care Facility instrument (interRAI-LTCF). The data came from LTC facilities in 7 European countries and Israel. The unadjusted values of the LTCF Quality Indicators differ considerably between facilities in the 8 countries. After risk adjustment the differences are less, but still considerable. Our QI sum measure facilitates the overall comparison of quality of care between facilities and countries.
With quality indicators based on assessments with the interRAI LTCF instrument quality of care between LTC facilities in and across nations can be adequately compared.
PMCID: PMC3716904  PMID: 23587337
Quality indicators; Long term care facility; SHELTER project

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