Whole System Quality
This white paper describes a more holistic approach to quality management that integrates quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement activities across the organization, supported by leadership practices that foster a culture of learning.
- Whole System Quality: A unified approach to building responsive, resilient health care systems
- Leadership principles required to support the Whole System Quality approach
- 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
Note: Portuguese translation of this paper also available for download.
Decades 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.
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.
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 ihi.org)
An Overview of Whole System Quality