Model for Improvement

Read here for an overview of the Model for Improvement and PDSA cycles. For a more detailed explanation, please go to the Education Module.

The Model for Improvement is a framework used to plan and execute quality improvement projects. Its structure emphasises the importance of setting the correct goal and measurements, as well as iterative testing of changes. Whilst many models are available (Lean, six sigma and others), and there are common features to most of them, this has the widest application in health and many similarities to the well known audit cycle.

The Model begins with a planning phase and 3 questions:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How will we know that a change is an improvement?
  • What change can we make that will result in improvement?

Then continues with the active stage of the model, where the project is planned and tested in real conditions with the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycle.

If you have a good idea, why should you go through the efforts of testing your intervention rather than just institute your idea? Changing things can be hard, and there may be cynicism or resistance to change. Testing your changes as you go along can help:

  • Check the change works in your work environment
  • Check for side effects and unintended consequences of your change
  • Deciding which of several options will lead to the best improvement
  • Persuade others your change will be beneficial by providing data from measurements
  • Reduce resistance to change, as you can assure people new procedures will only be introduced after checking their effectiveness
  • Quantify the improvement gained by the change (to aid a business case, for example)

The Model for Improvement is tried and tested in healthcare, and using it will ensure your project has every chance of success.