Quality Improvement (QI) has been defined as “an integral part of the ongoing management of the system for delivering clinical care,” not an independent, knowledge seeking enterprise. A QI activity might begin with a review of aggregate data at the patient, provider, clinical unit or organizational level to identify a clinical or management change expected to improve care. QI can look like a type of practical problem solving, an evidence-based management style, or the application of a theory driven science of how to bring about system change.
QI activities generally are intended to monitor quality issues for specific institutional operations. Although they often involve human participants, QI activities typically do not produce the “generalizable knowledge” for application outside of a specific department or operations that are the subject of the QI activity. They are generally designed to bring about immediate improvements in care in a particular localized healthcare setting.
Excerpt from Teresa A Williams et al., INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS: A PRIMER 4-5 (2007).