Overview of the IHI’s Published Improvement Methods

As Management Engineers, we strive to be strategic, collaborative, and innovative. Oftentimes, our good intentions and our well-thought plans are threatened by resistance from project team members, staff and leadership alike.  When faced with these threats, resources such as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Improvement Methods help bring us back on track.  The website provides clear insight into the world of healthcare process improvement, and serves today’s M.E. as an inspiration, a refresher, or even a source of new knowledge and tools.

Most of the specific tools are available only to IHI members, but some general material is available for public use.  An example of the later is the Improvement Tracker.   The Improvement Tracker can be used by healthcare improvement teams to map the key steps of an initiative, such as setting a goal, determining the most appropriate metric, and measuring performance.  Furthermore, the website provides example Improvement Trackers from other organizations.  Whether you are aiming to improve inpatient mortality, reduce infections, or expedite patient flow, this tool could be of use to you.

Another public IHI resource acts less as a tool and more as a guideline to improvement.  The Measures page provides a 10-minute introduction or refresher on how to judge the impact of improvement efforts.  The guideline is composed of common improvement terms to which every discipline can relate, and the principles apply to all improvement cultures and systems.  It also classifies healthcare measurement into different categories based on the unit of analysis, such as operational metrics, care quality indicators, or metrics specific to a clinical condition.  This organizational technique helps the reader extrapolate the ideas to their own issues.

The Improvement Tracker and the Measures page are just two of many tools available on the IHI Improvement Methods website. As we Management Engineers deal with overworked staff with tight schedules and leaders wary to introduce change, we often feel alone. We must remember that we have a community and several resources to help us improve our processes and make long lasting change.

Priya Khatri