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Strategic Partnerships

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) engages deeply with a select group of large organizations around the world to achieve transformative system-wide aims. These organizations, known as Strategic Partners, share IHI’s mission to improve health and health care, and they are in a position to have a substantial impact for patients and populations. With our Strategic Partners, we build improvement capability, innovate and test ideas, and form a community that works together to advance our mission globally.

Strategic Partners:
  • Share a mission that is aligned with IHI’s;
  • Can affect outcomes for many individuals (such as large health care organizations or systems);
  • Have the will to transform health care delivery;
  • Focus on improving population health;
  • Are driven by committed leadership at all levels;
  • Have experience implementing quality improvement and conducting improvement initiatives;
  • Have a deep commitment to being leaders at the forefront of improvement;
  • Seek involvement or express strong interest in innovation; and
  • Share results of our work with others (“all teach, all learn”) so that all may improve.
Strategic Partnerships are in-depth, multi-year engagements. At the outset, we assist the Strategic Partner in their efforts to define aims and identify areas of focus. Work is supported by senior IHI faculty, improvement experts, and staff.
Each Strategic Partnership is built around the goals and needs of the partner.
Strategic Partnerships typically include the following components:
  • Strategic Planning and Guidance: Establish ambitious, measurable system-level aims, design a strategy to achieve those aims, coach executive teams to support a process to implement and scale up the strategy, and help to continually reflect on progress and refine the strategy
  • Building Improvement Capability: Train leaders and staff at all levels in quality improvement methods; create a “culture of quality”
  • Results-oriented Initiatives: Design and lead large-scale initiatives that improve outcomes by testing, implementing, and scaling up best practices and coaching for results
  • Innovation: Participate in generating new solutions to unsolved problems, gain first access to the results of IHI’s innovation work, and have the opportunity to serve as sites for testing new ideas
  • Learning and Networking Opportunities: Participate in regular virtual opportunities and twice-yearly events with other Strategic Partners and leading organizations within and outside health care
Below we elaborate on each of these components.

Strategic Planning and Guidance
IHI and the Strategic Partner define measurable aims and ensure that activities link to a coherent strategy. The key drivers for success in this effort are goal setting, aligning activities with goals, integrating activities into the everyday work of the organization, and sequencing the work within the organization. Senior leaders from the Partner and IHI work closely together. Over time, IHI will assist the Partner’s leadership in reflecting on progress to date, lessons learned, and possible modifications to the organization’s strategy and approach.

Building Improvement Capability
Throughout the Strategic Partnership, IHI helps the Partner build capability through engaging staff and leaders in ongoing professional development, including the Improvement Advisor Professional Development Program, Patient Safety Executive Development Program, and other IHI seminars and conferences. Key content includes the Model for Improvement, measurement, reliable design, and teamwork and communications. The programming provides the quality improvement and safety knowledge and skills needed to lead improvement initiatives and build overall capability for change.
Results-oriented Initiatives
IHI welcomes the opportunity to work with large health systems on ambitious, results-oriented improvement initiatives. Results-oriented initiatives introduce interventions in both health care settings and in population health management around chosen topics (such as health-care-associated infections, coordinated care for older adults with complex needs, or overall patient safety). These kinds of initiatives can range from a single intervention that is spread throughout the organization to a comprehensive “change package,” and may focus on implementing established best practices or innovative ideas across a number of areas.

Based on the aims set during an initial phase of a Partnership, the Partner and IHI will be poised to identify one or more in-depth initiatives that address key priorities to achieve desired outcomes. The initiatives are specifically designed to align with the Partner’s larger vision and strategy. They feature customized support from IHI faculty, improvement experts, and staff to implement change, and use a range of methods such as collaborative improvement, coaching, site visits, and formal skill-building educational programs.

Testing, sharing, and deploying innovations is a primary function of a Strategic Partnership. IHI’s Core Innovation process is designed to research innovative ideas and assess their potential for advancing quality improvement, and to facilitate progression from an idea to the development of a new model, framework, or program. Strategic Partners have first access to the results of IHI’s innovation work. Partners can also serve as ideal sites for testing innovations of particular interest to them. IHI works closely with each Partner to continually evaluate opportunities to participate in IHI prototyping initiatives with other innovators and Strategic Partners in the field.

Learning and Networking Opportunities
Our annual Strategic Partners Summer Camp (hosted by one of the Partners) and Winter Camp meetings (held at the IHI National Forum) include representatives from each IHI Strategic Partner. The meetings emphasize sharing experiences in innovation, improvement, and collaboration in health care, as well as learning from other industries. Strategic Partners can form bilateral relationships with other members of the network, which are some of the most forward-thinking health care organizations in the world. The network provides an opportunity for Strategic Partners to learn from a variety of global health care systems.