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Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 1994 Apr;20(4):167-80.

Linking outcomes measurement to continual improvement: the serial "V" way of thinking about improving clinical care.

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  • 1Quality Resource Group, Hospital Corporation of America, Nashville, TN 37202-0550.



Outcomes measurement, process improvement, and continual improvement all have been used to improve quality in health care. However, the mutually complementary approaches have been used primarily in isolation from each other. The "Serial V" ("Vee") concept attempts to integrate these approaches to provide a fuller assessment and practical approach to quality improvement.


Outcomes measurement is used primarily to identify variations in care and possibly to determine corrective actions that may minimize those variations. Process improvement focuses on breaking down the components of a specific process of health care delivery, identifying or reworking problem areas in the process, then rebuilding the process. Continual improvement involves pinpointing a particular area for improvement, proposing specific changes, testing the instituted changes, and evaluating the success of such changes. The Serial V concept is an integrative strategy that incorporates aspects of all three approaches to create a comprehensive way to evaluate, institute, and reflect on change aimed at improvement. While this way of thinking appears complex at first glance, a practical worksheet that details each step in the process can be used to begin the clinical improvement work. Use of the Serial V approach, which unites measurement of outcomes, analysis of the clinical process, and repeated pilot tests to improve outcomes in real-world clinical settings, will accelerate improvement in health care outcomes and eliminate unnecessary costs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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