Why Data Collection is a Necessary Part of Quality Improvement

Posted March 14, 2017 by Josh Grant

QI Tips: The Importance of Data
Data provides key insights the progression of change and improvements. 

While changes are at the heart of quality improvement (QI), using data at every phase of a QI initiative helps inform the progress and outcomes of the work. The information is both a catalyst for change and a result of testing new strategies, making it a crucial element that can’t be ignored at any point. Data is for learning, not judgment, and the lesson is about whether and how changes result in improvement.

Baselines and Context at the Beginning
Understanding your system is the beginning step in making any type of improvement. One way to identify areas to change that lead to better outcomes for end users is to see where the pain points are and what practices could be more efficient. Without this first step a QI initiative would start with assumptions about what needs to change, which aren’t always correct.

Once areas for improvement are defined, if baseline data is available, use it. If not, the initial data points in an improvement project can be a surrogate baseline. 

Data collected to understand improvement shows progress over time and serves as a barometer that allows teams to understand which change ideas are beneficial and which need refinement to reach the intended outcomes.

Using Data to Learn about Tests of Change
Because QI initiatives rely on tests of change, frequent data collection is a necessary step to maximize learning. Whether a new idea is part of the first Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle or the 30th, the data collected during a test is the insight that teams need in order to determine their best path forward.

Data has another role with PDSA cycles. It helps understand if the prediction or theory of the test has merit. Comparing your results to your predictions is done in the “S” (Study) in PDSA. The outcomes of every test should influence what happens next. Don't confuse PDSA data with your project data. PDSA data just informs you about this particular test of change. And remember, qualitative data is useful, it often precedes quantitative data and may provide just enough information to shape your next PDSA cycle.  

After an Initiative
Even as a QI initiative formally ends, data should still be collected to ensure that any improvements are maintained and to monitor the long-term impact of system changes. You may not need to collect with the same frequency, but still monitor the data often enough to make sure you are holding the gains. 


Add your comment





sickle cell disease SCD advocacy Baby-Friendly breastfeeding Pediatric journal Best Fed Beginnings infant health safe sleep IM CoIIN QI quality improvement flexibility family partner parent partner vision screening nichq perinatal quality measures sustainabilty preterm birth tips PDSA cycle baby box infant mortality family engagement eccs coiin immunizations health equity health disparities accreditation astho onboarding collaboration engagement partnerships larc nashp new york wic new york state hospitals mom mother partners epilepsy data AAP early childhood pdsas texas community support learning session children's health new technology engineering transgender collaborative learning planning PDSA planning paralysis underplanning analysis paralysis vision eye health smoking smoke-free housing second-hand smoke toolkit e-module dental care oral health underserved populations health inequity public health Maternal and Child Health Journal leadership engagement indiana medicaid perinatal regionalization sudden infant death syndrome national birth defects prevention month birth defects pregnancy planning one key question prepregnancy health preconception health public breastfeeding support families patients experts insights CHOPT childhood obesity innovation food desert telemedicine TBLC breastfeeding supporting prematurity racial disparities audiology ehdi follow-up illinois talana hughes vulnerable populations sports asthma soccer basketball obesity football SIDS Pokemon Go gamification smartphones interconception care birth spacing issue brief contraceptive use postpartum care CoIN HRSA early childhood trauma NHSA community health consumer advocacy womens health interconception health teenage health PATCH wisconsin missouri risk appropriate care community health workers SCD< infographic infant mortality awareness month inspirations childrens health national breastfeeding month maternal health patient engagement hearing loss hearing treatment pediatric vision eyesight pre-term birth early-term birth SCD clinic los angeles LOCATe CDC levels of care neonatal care maternal care smoking cessation project safe sleep practices neonatal abstinence syndrome NAS opioids maternal and child health MCH Family voices quality care mental health hydroxyurea SCDTDP men dads testing change data sharing state government city government apps sleep AJPM preconception care senior leadership breastfeeding support video series access BQIH exclusive breastfeeding long-acting reversible contraception unplanned pregnancies social determinants of health health innovations Best Babies Zone CoIIN baby boxes Rhode Island progesterone rooming-in patient and family engagement healthy weight healthy lifestyles primary care telementoring ECHO video conferencing socioemotional health childhood development pediatric Tennessee interview National Coordinating and Evaluation Center medical-legal partnerships mobile app disparities perinatal care overweight obese healthy weight clinic wellness pilot sites data collection education resources paternal engagement risk-appropriate care preterm infants high-risk babies Ten Steps public relations social movement reversible contraceptives medical home pediatric medical home patient transformation facilitator PTF skin-to-skin rooming in prenatal smoking information visualization charts SUID postpartum new mother webinar AMCHP QI Tips ongoing improvement fourth trimester partnership quality and safety coaching leadership support year end holiday message reflections gratitute Medicaid data doctor relationship PQC perinatal quality collaboratives vision care vision health evidence-based guidelines ASH health and wellness healthy living healthy eating home visitors home visiting programs March of Dimes APHA results evaluation supplementation formula reduction video infant loss social media leadership Berns Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding sustainability stress prenatal care data capacity epidemiologists surveillance data PFAC community partners preconception and interconception care motivational interviewing Native Americans ADHD NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale ADHD Toolkit system design care coordination skin to skin newborn screening reduce smoking aim statement safe birth Texas Ten Step skin-to-skin contact 10 Steps staff training small tests acute care mother-baby couplet collective impact population health preconception Newborn Screening Program substance abuse breast milk formula milk bank crisis first responders NYC improvement healthcare health system sickle cell diease treatment protocol family health partner maternity care Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network Health Outcomes Cross-Sector Collaboration Knowledge Sharing Child Health