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Posted on 09 Aug 2021
Innovation and improvement

More than 600 health workers around the state are now trained in improvement science to drive better, safer healthcare that lasts. But what is improvement science all about? Our Director of Improvement Rebecca Reed - who leads our biggest improvement partnerships - takes us through how to turn a passion for quality improvement into action!

Read the opening line of most aspiring clinicians job application letters - be they allied health, nursing or other - and you would be hard pressed not to see the words 'passionate about improving outcomes for patients'. I think it’s safe to say, despite my clinical rose-coloured glasses, all consumers of healthcare hope and expect this ‘passion’ to run deeper than an aspiration and be a core value.

So what does living this value everyday look like? For some it's making sure the direct care they provide is safe, person-centred and effective. For others, it is contributing to the invaluable evidence base that informs clinical care.

For another group (which includes me!) providing safe and effective care wasn’t always enough. Being a clinician also meant needing to improve the means and ways clinical care could be provided.  From my perspective, being able to do this was the deal breaker in shifting from aspiration to action.

Even as a junior clinician I was desperate to inform the way the system worked to help me and my colleagues deliver the best possible care. I was often frustrated by not being able to influence others, not feeling like I had the right tools or language to do that, or not being able to see if my or my peer’s ideas could make a difference.

So like many clinicians who see themselves as having two jobs - 'to do their work and improve the work they do' (thank you Dr Paul Batalden, Senior IHI Fellow for that gold) - I searched until I found the missing piece, the key to unlocking every clinician's ability to do their work and improve the work they do.

It's called quality improvement (QI). And WOW what a difference it made (how cliché I can hear you say!). It's hard to express the influence that understanding even the basics of QI had in giving me the confidence to influence peers and those senior to me in order to test ideas that could improve outcomes for patients.

And I'm excited to share QI with frontline clinicians, consumers and healthcare leaders, and to hand them the tools, knowledge and understanding to activate an agency in improving outcomes with and for patients.

If I had to pick one thing for a clinician to understand, it would be PDSAs (Plan-Do-Study-Act). My favourite aspect of QI for its practicality and utility, this simple tool can be a game changer particularly for clinicians. It makes explicit the natural problem solving, experimentation and responsive learning approach so akin to a clinician’s natural way of being and doing.

I feel so wonderfully privileged to be leading the Improvement Partner team in Safer Care Victoria, and spreading this amazing QI knowledge through our improvement initiatives or our formal training programs. The more people we can share this with, the better we'll be placed to achieve outstanding healthcare for all Victorians always. 

I hope as you read through our newsletter this month that you can see the many ways to learn about QI, and either start or strengthen how you are living out your aspiration of improving outcomes for patients and our system.

Interested in learning more?


Page last updated: 09 Aug 2021