What’s the Difference Between Quality Improvement and Research?
Whether you’re interested in health care quality improvement (QI) or health care research, there are some similarities and differences between the two. Both aim to improve the quality of care and both can improve the health of patients. The main difference is that research is based on evidence while QI is based on qualitative analysis. But there is a synergy between the two approaches.
Qualitative improvement vs research
Often, healthcare providers have a difficult time distinguishing between the various quality improvement (QI) initiatives that they are involved with. However, there are several key differences between QI and research. The ‘best’ of the two is usually determined by a combination of factors. In addition to assessing the quality of a healthcare organization’s care delivery, quality improvement activities should also include testing and evaluating innovations that improve care delivery.
It’s a fact that achieving good quality care at a reasonable cost is a global goal. To achieve this, the healthcare industry will need to develop faster discovery mechanisms. To this end, the Health Foundation has introduced the THE Institute, which will serve as a hub for enhancing the research and development of quality improvement initiatives.
Synergy between QI and evidence based health care
Increasingly, health care institutions are looking to develop common themes to drive quality improvement and improve patient outcomes. This can include reducing waste, improving care coordination, or reducing unnecessary health care use. Often, these themes overlap, but there are subtle differences in how they are implemented.
Quality Improvement (QI) is a systematic data-guided approach to improve health care. It involves the implementation of a change strategy based on the best evidence available. The process is usually undertaken by experts. QI projects usually address issues related to workflow processes, educational problems, or clinical administrative problems.
Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is a problem solving approach to improve health care. It integrates clinical expertise with systematic searches for relevant research. The purpose of EBP is to contribute to generalizable knowledge.
OHRP opinion on QI/QA vs research
Often, the difference between quality improvement and research can be difficult to understand. However, the Office for Human Research Protections has provided guidance to help you understand what constitutes a QI/QA initiative.
A QI/QA initiative is an activity designed to improve the quality of care and patient safety. It is generally data-guided and systematic in its approach. It may target practitioners or students. It is also designed to develop generalizable knowledge. It may be supported by external sources of funding. However, it does not usually qualify as human subjects research.
If you are not sure whether your QI activity qualifies as research, contact your IRB. A staff member can provide you with an expedient process to determine whether the project will require IRB review.
Developing and sharing methods for data collection, measurement, and reporting that support QI measurement and improvement efforts
Developing and sharing methods for data collection, measurement, and reporting that support quality improvement and improvement efforts is an important step to help healthcare organizations improve patient care and reduce costs. However, achieving quality results requires reliable underlying data. Consequently, organizations need to be sure that they have the right data fields and data collection methods to ensure that the data they collect is valid and timely.
To address this issue, hospital managers worked with their Information Technology (IT) department to develop an analytics tool for advanced performance measurement. They implemented it in an effort to improve the quality of data collected from different sources and to generate interest in performance measurement. They promoted the use of the tool through formal education seminars.
Need for administrative review and IRB approval
Whether you are planning to conduct a quality improvement project or are just starting out, you may need to submit an IRB application and undergo administrative review. Whether you are collecting data, introducing an intervention, or testing a new diagnostic test, you should first seek IRB approval before you begin.
There are three main types of review. You will need to determine the level of review that is required. You should also review the For Researchers portal to identify the regulatory requirements that apply to your project.
Quality Improvement (QI) or Program Evaluation (PE) projects are difficult to assess for IRB review requirements. The project may include collecting data about generalizable patient outcomes, introducing a clinical intervention, or testing a new diagnostic test.