Supporting Continuous Quality Improvement and Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
What are Evaluation Tools?
Concepts of continuous quality improvement (CQI) are familiar to administrators but may not be as familiar to health professionals and community organizations. CQI tools are used to identify, understand, and revise modifiable elements of projects involving multiple sectors, parties, and disciplines. CQI is sometimes used synonymously with other terms such as total quality management (TQM), total quality care, quality management, and quality improvement (QI). CQI is an ongoing, project-wide framework and process that team members are committed to. Team members are involved in continuously monitoring and evaluating the project’s activities and outcomes/outputs to inform strategies to improve them. CQU is a continuous iterative process.
The overall goal of CQI is to provide the best service all of the time.
Essential elements of CQI are:
- Systems orientation (understanding the process and steps)
- Experimentation to test implementation
- Teamwork to broaden vision and solutions
CQI is a philosophy as much as it is a method for improving and maintaining the quality of a process to deliver a program. It combines professional knowledge with improvement knowledge. CQI breaks down the process into a manageable series of steps and then analyzes those steps. To decide what is not working as well as it could be and what might work better, data collection is required. Data allows us to look at variation in any process and make informed decisions as to what if anything needs to be changed and how to go about making a change for improvement.
There are a series of CQI steps that are helpful to improve a project:
- Identify areas for improvement (what works and what doesn’t work)
- Organize a team (get input from others)
- Understand variation in the project and activities (possible areas for improvement)
- Select strategies for improvement