Learning for Quality Improvement: Knowledge Management Approaches and Tools from the USAID ASSIST Project
The USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project (September 2012-June 2020) of the Office of Health Systems in the USAID Bureau for Global Health was given an explicit mandate in its cooperative agreement to incorporate knowledge management (KM) concepts and techniques in health care improvement work. University Research Co., LLC (URC) interpreted this mandate as supporting the deliberate harvesting of learning from the implementation and evaluation of improvement work at the country level and applying that learning in the design, implementation, and scale-up of improvement activities. The project implemented this mandate by training field and headquarters staff and country counterparts in knowledge management and documentation approaches to support peer-to-peer learning and knowledge synthesis and harvesting and by providing technical support in KM from the project’s headquarters team to all countries and technical areas.
Applying KM principles and techniques, ASSIST country and technical teams sought to integrate learning across improvement teams and consolidate successful changes in the form of change packages, guidance documents, and tools that could be readily spread to new sites as well as case studies that explain what specific actions a team in a specific context took to achieve results. While the primary users of these products were implementers in each country, they were also disseminated globally through the ASSIST website, webinars, face-to-face events, and dissemination of written knowledge products in a wide variety of formats, including case studies, blogs, improvement stories, technical reports, and toolkits. The project also leveraged social media (Facebook and Twitter) to connect with implementers who could benefit from improvement methods and these knowledge products and promoted new products through the project’s listserv.
The USAID ASSIST website was launched in 2014 to serve as a knowledge portal to provide guidance, tools, and resources to support the application of improvement methods to achieve measurable increases in service quality across all USAID priority health topics. In keeping with the project’s mandate to apply KM concepts and approaches to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of improvement interventions, the website featured extensive content on KM concepts, approaches, tools, and products. This document consolidates the main KM content from the USAID ASSIST website, presented in section IV of this document, to make it available following the close of the website in September 2020.