Improvement Methods Toolkit

Drawing on over 25 years of experience with health care improvement, the USAID ASSIST Project applies to health care the following core principles that underlie the science of improvement:

  • The work of delivering health care happens in processes and systems. Understanding them and changing them in ways to produce better results is at the heart of improving health care.
  • Working in teams of different health care providers involved in delivering care is key to making changes work and fostering ownership of the changes to enhance sustainability.
  • Testing changes to determine whether they yield the desired results is at the heart of improvement. Data are used to analyze processes, identify problems, determine whether the changes have resulted in improvement, and help determine whether to abandon, modify, or implement the tested solution.
  • Care should meet the needs and expectations of patients, clients, and communities.
  • Shared learning, where multiple teams work on common aims and exchange information about what worked, what did not, how it worked, and why, is an essential part of improvement, producing better and faster results.

In the words of Paul Batalden “Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results that it achieves.”  Therefore, in order to achieve a different level of performance, we have to make changes to that system in ways that permit it to produce better results.

Improvement methods help us make systematic changes in the way health care is delivered to increase the likelihood that those changes will result in better care.  


Click on the improvement methods listed below to better understand their application to improving health care:

Toolkit last updated: March 10, 2015