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Defining Quality Improvement in Public Health

Riley, William J. PhD; Moran, John W. PhD, MBA, CQIA, CQM, CMC; Corso, Liza C. MPA; Beitsch, Leslie M. MD, JD; Bialek, Ronald MPP; Cofsky, Abbey

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: January/February 2010 - Volume 16 - Issue 1 - p 5–7
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181bedb49
Commentary

Many industries commonly use quality improvement (QI) techniques to improve service delivery and process performance. Yet, there has been scarce application of these proven methods to public health settings and the public health field has not developed a set of shared principles or a common definition for quality improvement. This article discusses a definition of quality improvement in public health and describes a continuum of quality improvement applications for public health departments. Quality improvement is a distinct management process and set of tools and techniques that are coordinated to ensure that departments consistently meet the health needs of their communities.

This commentary discusses a definition of quality improvement in public health and describes a range of QI applications for public health departments.

William J. Riley, PhD, is Associate Dean, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

John W. Moran, PhD, MBA, CQIA, CQM, CMC, is Senior Quality Advisor, Public Health Foundation, Washington, District of Columbia.

Liza C. Corso, MPA, is Team Leader, Office of Public Health Systems Performance, Office of the Chief of Public Health Practice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

Leslie M. Beitsch, MD, JD, is Professor of Health Policy, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, and Director, Center for Medicine and Public Health, Tallahassee, Florida. He currently serves as Associate Dean for Health Affairs.

Ronald Bialek, MPP, is President, Public Health Foundation, Washington, District of Columbia.

Abbey Cofsky, is a Program Associate, Public Health Team, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, New Jersey.

Corresponding Author: William J. Riley, PhD, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware St SE, MMC 729, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (riley001@umn.edu).

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.