By Leighann E. Kimble and M. Rashad Massoud, Quality in Universal Health and Health Care TWG
In July 2016, 58 participants from 11 organizations came together at the Salzburg Global Seminar Session 565 to tackle the question of “How do we learn about improvement?”. This question was first posed in a framing paper that addressed the need to increase attribution, generalizability, and rigor of health system quality improvement activities. The session was sponsored by USAID through the Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems Project with additional funding and technical support from the New Venture Fund, Academy Health, Common Knowledge Associates, FHI360, Hong Kong Department of Health, Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the World Health Organization.
We quickly realized that the answer to our questions on this topic would not be easily answered through the development of new methods or structures. Instead, we proceeded along the line that strengthening our ability to learn about quality improvement would be better achieved by increasing collaboration between evaluators, researchers, and improvers. Increased collaboration also encourages more thoughtful use of appropriate methods that can capture learning from the adaptive, iterative nature of improvement activities. A report was developed to capture the events, discussions, and insights from the session.
Leaving the seminar with a sense of collaboration, since 2016, we have been spreading the spirit of the Salzburg Global Seminar Session 565 with the quality improvement field at large through numerous conferences, sessions and workshops. More importantly, we have made changes in our own work to increase the embeddedness of evaluators in improvement activities and vice versa, to increase our ability to learn about the generalizability, rigor, and attribution of our work – a feat only possible through the collaboration and shared understanding between our improvement implementers and evaluators.
Approaching the two-year anniversary of the Salzburg Global Seminar Session 565, we are excited to be able to share the International Journal for Quality in Health Care Supplement, Salzburg Global Seminar Session 565 – Better Health Care: How do we learn about improvement?. In this supplement, participants again worked together to harness the key lessons from our discussions and provide a framework and practical recommendations for integrating an embedded approach for evaluation and improvement activities. The end goal in mind, of course, is to improve our ability to learn about improvement. We hope this supplement will give others the opportunity to join in the discussion and in this effort.
We recognize that key to the success of spreading embedded evaluation and learning from this new approach will be learning from the implementation of this approach in our own work as well as the work of others. To assist in this next step forward, we have developed a Community of Practice to continue and expand our collaboration to learn from each other in this effort. The Community of Practice will be hosted by the ISQua, open to all, and will involve a series of virtual interactions. These sessions will discuss efforts in implementing embedded evaluation and increased collaboration between evaluators and improvers to improve learning about improvement. The information for joining these sessions and the broader Community of Practice will be distributed as soon as the Community of Practice is established. We look forward to the continued journey in understanding “How do we learn about improvement?” and the advancement it will bring.