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The model for improvement

The Model for Improvement is widely used in healthcare to help support quality improvement to be done in a systematic way by following a number of steps.

The model is made up of two parts:

  1. 3 key questions that ensure it is really clear and understandable to everyone, what you want to achieve, how you will measure your success and what you are going to do to get there:
  2. Plan, Do, Study Act (PDSA) cycles to support testing changes you make, so you always know whether your changes are making things better, the same or worse. We use the word ‘testing’ in improvement as, although we may have a good idea about what might improve our problem, we don’t know for sure and that’s OK!

The image of the Model for Improvement is available here IHI Model for Improvement.

Let’s look at these in more detail

3 key questions

What are we trying to accomplish?

This question will prompt more questions and your problem understanding work can we get a link to this bit here?? You might want to start with some prompts:
What is the problem we are trying to improve?

How do we know this is a problem? – e.g. tacit knowledge, data, complaints, anecdotal, incidents

Why do we want to improve this?
Once you are sure you understand your problem and can answer these prompts you are ready to create your aim statement. Link here to that page??

How will we know that a change is an improvement?

This question prompts you to think about measuring. If you have a good aim statement this will define one of your measures for you. It is important that we are able to measure our problem in some way so that we understand the extent of the problem to begin with (baseline), the effect of our changes (better, worse, no change) and if improvement is sustained over time.

What changes can we make that will result in improvement?

This question prompts us to think about making a change, doing things differently to try to improve our problem. This is where your driver diagram comes into play, by understanding the problem and creating a visual display of this as a driver diagram, you will be able to identify change ideas that have potential to lead to improvement.

PDSA cycles

Plan, Do, Study, and Act is an effective method that helps teams plan the actions for their model, test it on a small scale, and review before deciding how to continue. PDSA cycles are a fantastic way of taking ideas, trying them in practice, learning what works and what doesn’t to help you achieve success. You can broaden the scale of the test or adjust your ideas through more than one PDSA cycle – it may take a few before the idea starts to work reliably.

Further resources

Learn more about the model for improvement here: