BACKGROUND: Quality improvement approaches such as continuous quality improvement (CQI) and total quality management are widely used, but little is known about how much it costs to use the principles and techniques required to implement CQI processes. In the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Improving the Quality of Hospital Care (IQHC) program, four consortia of hospitals were funded in the early 1990s. Interviews with quality managers at 38 of the consortia hospitals were conducted in 1995 to determine the costs of conducting CQI projects to allow an estimation of the marginal cost of using CQI processes (particularly cross-disciplinary teams) to improve quality of care. CQI PROJECTS: Quality managers described 69% of project outcomes as critical to clinical services. Team members identified the issues their teams addressed and selected the project 64% of the time, the methods of analysis 87% of the time, and the approaches to resolving the problem or issue 97% of the time. Most of the respondents agreed that the team members had the authority to resolve the problem without appealing to higher levels of management. Costs for hospitals' most recently completed projects varied widely, from $148 for the entire project to $18,590. The length or duration of the projects also varied widely, from 1 month to 66 months. DISCUSSION: In the hospitals included in this sample, all of which were highly self-selected (evidenced by their participation in a voluntary consortium of hospitals focused on quality of care), knowledge of CQI processes appeared to be fairly thorough. Teams appeared to have a reasonable amount of autonomy. New CQI projects should be subjected to scrutiny in terms of their likely contribution to quality of care, as distinct from other positive outcomes.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||The Joint Commission journal on quality improvement|
|State||Published - Aug 2000|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Support for this article was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation under Grant No. 13644 . Support was also provided by the VA Health Services Research and Development Service. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs.