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Improvement Coach Professional Development Program

​​​​​​​Ernesto Rodriguez, Chief of Emergency Medical Services, Austin-Travis County, discusses the organizational benefits of sending a team to the Improvement
Coach program.

Further develop your improvement knowledge and skills in order to coach and facilitate improvement teams, with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's (IHI's) Improvement Coach Professional Development Program.

This interactive, experiential program is designed to advance your improvement capability and deepen your skills in the art of coaching and facilitating improvement teams in support of achieving their goals.

With a unique focus on how to do improvement work with or via others, this program specifically explores the human side of change and the experiences many face when doing improvement work in the workplace.

Practice during the virtual workshops, combined with the application of your learning with your team back home creates a dynamic learning opportunity. 

Register now


In order to make the most of this practical professional development program, you must identify a team with an improvement project. This team must be willing to allow you to apply your learning from the program and act as a coach.

This program is designed to help you:

  • Describe the science of improvement and use the Model for Improvement as a roadmap for improvement projects
  • Employ skills to coach improvement teams on how to develop, test, and implement changes including identifying high-leverage change ideas and testing them using PDSA cycles
  • Explain how to use data for improvement, including how to use and interpret run charts and other key quality improvement tools
  • Develop skills in team facilitation, communication, decision making, and understanding team culture
  • Apply just-in-time teaching of improvement skills to team members in order to advance the team’s work
  • Plan how you will continue coaching your team and prepare yourself to coach subsequent teams
  • Identify concepts of implementation, sustainability, spread, and scale-up


This program is ideal for people who support improvement teams on a weekly basis (e.g., 25-50% of their time as an improvement coach). 

In order to stay at pace with the program, participants are also encouraged to have a foundation in quality improvement (QI) concepts, methods, and tools (see recommendations in the 'Recommended Prerequisites' section below).

QI team members or leaders who are interested in deepening their knowledge in QI and coaching others would be a great fit. Consider registering for this program if you are looking to:

  • Coach staff on how to apply improvement concepts, methods, and tools to daily work
  • Support teams in identifying a problem and scoping an improvement project 
  • Help develop measures, data collection plans, and analyze data for a project
  • Understand the working and communication styles within a team in order to be more effective
  • Run effective meetings

Recommended Prerequisites

  • Experience: previous experience participating on or leading an improvement team
  • Knowledge: prior improvement knowledge required:


    • An equivalent level of learning from other organizations (e.g., ASQ, NQF, or a university-based QI program)

Examples of Appropriate Projects Include:

  • Improve a process that produces good results most of the time, but occasionally results in errors or problems (e.g. testing new protocols for reducing errors).
  • Identify a process that better matches and meets a patient or family need, even if patients or families have not expressly asked for it (e.g. test a process to better assess long-term care residents' needs).
  • Identify and improve processes, products, and services by making fundamental changes even though the output is currently not considered a problem, in order to deliver even better outcomes in the future.
  • Improve a product, process, or service today, which will put you in a better competitive position (e.g. improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions through self-management support that includes collaborative goal setting, action planning, and problem solving).
  • Fix a recent or recurring problem that all agree needs to be fixed to restore a process to the level it was designed to perform or to exceed expected performance.

Specific examples of past projects include:

  • Decrease inappropriate utilization of emergency department
  • Decrease wait time for cancer patients seeking overnight lodging
  • Increase community resident attendance in fitness programs
  • Increase screening for behavioral health in primary care
  • Increase student asthma medications in school nurse's office
  • Improve completion of a tobacco smoking history reminder in outpatient primary care
  • Improve emergency department care for patients with deep venous thrombosis/pulmonary embolism
  • Improve emergency department flow from admission to time in a bed
  • Improve follow-up post hospital stay
  • Improve housing placements; improve rapid re-housing
  • Improve hydration on an elderly ward
  • Improve medical screening process; increase screening rate for social needs in an ambulatory clinic
  • Reduce appointment "no-shows"
  • Reduce paperwork for patients (and increase patient and provider workflow and satisfaction)
  • Reducing parental complaints regarding homework
  • Reduce pressure ulcers; visual cues for bedside staff in pediatric pressure ulcer prevention
  • Reduce resident falls with harm
  • Reduce the number of days to schedule an appointment for surgery