The healthcare field constantly evolves, with new practices and approaches developing continuously. Nursing professionals must understand and regularly implement healthcare quality improvement (QI) practices to improve patients’ lives and help move the industry and their profession forward.

Eastern Michigan University’s online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program prepares graduates to visualize a better patient and nursing experience and become change-makers and advocates for progress. Students explore several QI models and real-world healthcare initiatives through courses like Introduction to Healthcare Quality Improvement.

What Is Quality Improvement?

Quality is “the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge,” the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notes.

Therefore, QI uses a systemic framework and guidelines to identify practices hindering optimal care. According to CMS, QI initiatives “standardize processes and structure to reduce variation, achieve predictable results, and improve outcomes for patients, healthcare systems, and organizations.” Structure may include technology, leadership and physical capital, while process includes knowledge and human capital, such as standard operating procedures or education and training.

The purpose of QI in nursing is to elevate the standard of patient care and streamline decision-making and care delivery. Healthcare organizations use quality measure benchmarking to identify improvement areas. This way, they can reduce costs while tracking progress toward the triple aim of improving population health, provider experiences and patient outcomes.

What Are the Benefits of Quality Improvement in Nursing?

A comprehensive QI approach in nursing often yields multiple positive changes — for nurses and patients. For example, streamlined processes can reduce medical errors and enhance communication among healthcare teams. Optimized protocols focusing on patient-centered approaches and integrating evidence-based advancements, including technology, can create a safer, more efficient workplace and care environment.

The benefits of quality improvement initiatives in nursing are:

  • Increased patient and staff safety
  • Increased patient and staff satisfaction
  • Lower staffing turnover
  • Improved health outcomes
  • Enhanced regulatory compliance
  • Better resource utilization

What Are Examples of Quality Improvement in Nursing?

QI in nursing takes many forms and is frequently divided into QI projects and QI programs. QI projects typically address a singular issue affecting the healthcare organization, such as rising cases of sepsis. QI programs are longer-term and more broadly defined initiatives, such as improving care access or patient outcomes.

Consider the following examples of QI in nursing:

Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai created the “Lose the Tube” project to decrease the number of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Within five months, the hospital established a new system to correctly identify the patients needing a catheter and ensure timely removal through regular patient check-ins. CAUTI rates subsequently fell from 2.67 to 0.2 per month.

Florida Department of Health

After conducting a statewide health assessment of the issues affecting residents, the Florida Department of Health’s statewide QI plan emphasizes several key metrics, each with specific objectives to drive improvement and evaluate progress.

The priority areas are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias
  • Mental well-being and substance abuse prevention
  • Chronic diseases and conditions
  • Transmissible and emerging diseases
  • Injury, safety and violence
  • Maternal and child health
  • Social and economic conditions impacting health

Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium

Congenital disease affects 1 in 110 babies born in the U.S., and it can be difficult for these families to navigate the healthcare system. The Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium sought to improve care quality by addressing interprofessional collaboration and data-sharing challenges and providing caregiver feedback. The effort decreased postoperative mortality by 24% and time spent on a ventilator by 13%.

How an Further Education Can Help

As nursing evolves, QI measures are integral to maintaining high levels of patient care and advancing professional standards. With a commitment to continuous learning through an RN to BSN program, nurses can foster innovation and embrace new practices that redefine healthcare operations.

Learn more about Eastern Michigan University’s online RN to BSN program.