Whole System Quality

​A Unified Approach to Building Responsive, Resilient Health Care Systems


IHIWholeSystemQualityWhitePaper_COVER.jpgDecades of scholarship, coupled with insights from the COVID-19 pandemic, reveal a way forward for health systems that are pursuing quality in health care: through a process of rigorous learning, health care organizations can design resilient and responsive management systems to continuously deliver services that reliably and sustainably meet the evolving needs of patients, populations, and communities — in times of both stability and crisis.

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This IHI White Paper proposes a more holistic approach to quality management — whole system quality — that enables organizations to close the gap between the quality that customers are currently receiving and the quality that they could be receiving by integrating quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement activities across multiple levels of the system.

Whole system quality requires leadership principles and practices that foster a culture of learning to reliably and sustainably meet the evolving needs of patients, populations, and communities. The paper details how these leadership principles and management practices can enable health systems to pursue quality — with ambition, alignment, and agility — through a commitment to learning.


VIDEO: An Overview of Whole System Quality

 Download White Paper

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The white paper includes the following:

  • Definitions for whole system quality and the leadership principles required to support this approach
  • A description of how whole system quality links to customer needs, organizational vision, and quality strategy
  • Detailed descriptions of three interrelated components — quality planning, quality improvement, and quality control — that inform a more holistic whole system quality approach
  • A proposed set of simultaneous activities that health care organizations can undertake to build a foundation for the transition to whole system quality

 

How to Cite This Paper: Sampath B, Rakover J, Baldoza K, Mate K, Lenoci-Edwards J, Barker P. Whole System Quality: A Unified Approach to Building Responsive, Resilient Health Care Systems. IHI White Paper. Boston: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2021. (Available at www.ihi.org)

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