Using Lean to Advance Quality Improvement Research

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Abstract

Introduction:

Quality improvement research skills are not commonplace among quality improvement practitioners, and research on the effectiveness of quality improvement has not always kept pace with improvement innovation. However, the Lean tools applied to quality improvement should be equally relevant to the advancement of quality improvement research.

Methods:

We applied the Lean methods to develop a simplified quality improvement publication pathway enabling a small research methodology group to increase quality improvement research throughout the institution. The key innovations of the pathway are horizontal integration of the quality improvement research methods group across the institution, implementation of a Lean quality improvement research pathway, and application of a just-in-time quality improvement research toolkit.

Results:

This work provides a road map and tools for the acceleration of quality improvement research. At our institution, the Lean quality improvement research approach was associated with statistically significant increases in the number (annual mean increase from 3.0 to 8.5, p = .03) and breadth of published quality improvement research articles, and in the number of quality improvement research projects currently in process.

Discussion:

Application of Lean methods to the quality improvement research process can aid in increasing publication of quality improvement articles from across the institution.

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