Helping quality improvement teams succeed

QI coaches may be the answer


Hospitalists understand the need for quality improvement (QI) as an important part of health care, and they take active roles in – or personally drive – many of the QI efforts at their own facilities. But too often the results are inconsistent and the adoption of new practices slow.

Help can come from a QI Coach, according to a recent paper describing a model of successful coaching. “We wanted to be able to help novice QI teams to be successful,” said the paper’s lead author Danielle Olds, PhD. “Unfortunately, most QI projects are not successful for a variety of reasons including inadequate project planning, a lack of QI skills, a lack of leadership and stakeholder buy-in, and inappropriate measures and methods.”

The coaching model outlined comes from the VAQS program, launched in 1998 to provide structured training around QI and the care of veterans. The seven-step process outlined in the paper provides a road map to overcoming typical QI stumbling blocks and create more successful projects.


“Improvement should be a part of everyone’s practice, however most clinicians have not been trained in how to successfully lead a formal QI project,” said Dr. Olds, who is based at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. “Hospitals can bridge this gap by providing QI coaches as a resource to guide teams through the process.”

The model offers a new way for hospitalists to take the lead on QI. “Hospitalists who may have extensive experience in conducting QI could use a model, such as ours, to guide their coaching of teams within their facility,” she said. “Because of the nature of hospitalist practice, they are in an ideal position to understand improvement needs at a systems level within their facility. I would strongly encourage hospitalists to engage in QI because of the wealth of knowledge and experience that they could bring.”


Olds DM et al. “VA Quality Scholars Quality Improvement Coach Model to Facilitate Learning and Success.” Qual Manag Healthcare. 2018;27(2):87-92. doi: 10.1097/QMH.0000000000000164. Accessed 2018 Jun 11.

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