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Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 1995 Aug;21(8):420-32.

Increasing the impact of quality improvement on health: an expert panel method for setting institutional priorities.

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Center for the Study of Healthcare Provider Behavior, Sepulveda Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), CA, USA.



Successful implementation of modern ongoing quality improvement (QI) methods requires investment of institutional resources, but can produce significant improvements in medical care. A health care organization's goals and objectives for improving care are expressed in strategic plan documents, which could provide a framework for planning quality improvement initiatives. However, institutional strategic planning processes are often not well linked to QI staff and resources. We developed the Quality Action Program (QAP) to connect QI to strategic planning.


In 1991, Sepulveda VHAMC implemented a major primary care initiative, documented in a comprehensive strategic plan. The QAP was developed to enable the initiative to be evaluated within a QI context. THREE-ROUND EXPERT PANEL PROCESS: To carry out the QAP, members of an institution's quality council engage in a structured consensus process. The first round involves reading educational materials and filling out a quality action survey the second round includes participation in an expert panel meeting, and the third round involves making final priority rankings. EIGHT-STEP QAP IMPLEMENTATION PLAN: QI staff carry out activities to prepare for and carry out the three-round expert panel process.


QAP induced significant institutional QI activity directed toward achieving the top-ranked QI criterion--ensuring continuity of care. Continuity of care improved significantly over time between the pre- and post-QAP periods.


Expert panel methods can be used to link strategic plan goals and objectives to QI efforts.

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