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Kaiser Permanente's Performance Improvement System, Part 2: Developing a Value Framework

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Background: In 2008, Kaiser Permanente began phased implementation of a nationwide performance improvement (PI) system. The aim was to improve performance by providing consistent, highly meaningful performance measurement, increase PI skills in staff at all levels, develop organizational capabilities, and provide support for making improvements in medical centers and across regions.

Evaluating the PI System: The intermediate results of the PI system were assessed in the 22 medical centers in four of the eight Kaiser Permanente regions. Implementation for 3 of these medical centers occurred in January 2008 through November 2008, with implementation for the remaining 19 medical centers occurring from September 2008 through September 2009.

Findings: The 22 medical centers that were evaluated achieved a 61% improvement in selected capabilities, and improvement advisors (IAs) successfully completed 84% of initial PI projects. For each dollar invested, estimates suggested an average return on investment of $2.36.

Lessons Learned: Critical factors include adequate dedicated time for PI activities by staff with necessary expertise, expert support to operations, alignment of projects with regional and national strategic priorities, and close working relationships between PI staff and operational management. Involving finance leaders in improvement planning, prioritization, and oversight is important. These elements can be adapted to smaller systems and single hospitals.

Conclusions: The initial evaluation of the Kaiser Permanente PI system indicated that (1) IAs successfully led projects in conjunction with frontline teams, (2) organizational capabilities increased, and (3) the investment in PI infrastructure and staff was sound. Expansion throughout the entire Kaiser Permanente system is under way.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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