Patrick Keady

Quality : measure for improvement



Joseph M. Juran changed himself from a poor Romanian immigrant at the age of 5 years, into a world renowned quality expert.  Juran is known as the “father” of quality, a quality “guru” and the man who “taught quality to the Japanese.”


One of Juran’s mantra’s is that, what gets measured gets managed.  Yet most NHS organisations find measurement challenging.


Presented by Mike Davidge from the NHS Institute, seven steps to measurement (scroll to see the video) is definitely the best 10-minute introduction that I’ve seen to measurement – and it will help you to enhance the measurement of improvement in outpatients, theatres, wards, hotel services and even in your own work.


Mike is the NHS Institute’s Head of Measurement and he sees the two main barriers to measurement in the NHS as :


  • Measurement for research – for example, when data is collected following randomised controlled drug trials to prove that the new drug is working. This requires careful planning and is seen as the preserve of experts.
  • Measurement for judgement – where NHS organisations have targets to meet, and some of the organisations allegedly become creative about how the data is defined and measured to ensure that the target is met.


Mike explains the third form of measurement and he calls this ‘measurement for improvement’.  This is where NHS organisations understand how well their treatment processes are working, and if they can improve them.  He found that you don’t need to collect lots of data, but you do need to collect it regularly, frequently and compare how you are doing, relative to past performance.  Then you need to decide on what to do next to improve the process that you are measuring.


He believes that measurement for improvement differs from the measurement for research and measurement for judgement – because the data belongs to the staff who collected it.


Spreading the ‘measurement for improvement’ approach to data collection across healthcare is vital for sustained improvement.  Check out the video and you will see how easy it is to get started.


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