Measurement: Process and Outcome Indicators
Methods of Quality Improvement
Things Quality Improvement is NOT
Summative Experience

Contrasting QI and QA

Many people are familiar with the term Quality Assurance (QA), as it was a common term for many years.

Quality Assurance – QA was reactive, retrospective, policing, and in many ways punitive. It often involved determining who was at fault after something went wrong. This term is older and not as likely to be used today.

Quality Improvement – QI involves both prospective and retrospective reviews. It is aimed at improvement -- measuring where you are, and figuring out ways to make things better. It specifically attempts to avoid attributing blame, and to create systems to prevent errors from happening.

QI activities can be very helpful in improving how things work. Trying to find where the “defect” in the system is, and figuring out new ways to do things can be challenging and fun. It’s a great opportunity to “think outside the box.”

An effective QI program can really help make your life better.

Short Example of QI vs. QA
From the following statements, which do you think have a QA focus and which have a QI focus?


Which staff member failed to transfer the call to the correct extension?

Are we creating an environment encouraging clinicians to report errors?

How do we reduce production errors on the widget line?
Patient had a bad outcome; were the doctors or nurses at fault?
What could we do to increase the efficiency of chart filing?

If you think you have a good comprehension of the difference between QA and QI try to look at the QA statements and see if you could reword them to have a QI focus. Alternately you can also change the QI statements to QA. The main difference between QI and QA is that QI’s focus is on Improvement. The focus makes all the difference in how people respond to a quality project.


Index Previous Next

Questions about this website, please email: CFM_Webmaster@mc.duke.edu
© 2016 Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine. All Rights Reserved.