The Largest Roundup of Healthcare Quality Improvement Examples and Projects

By Kate Eby | June 17, 2019 (updated April 17, 2023)

Healthcare organizations have performed tens of thousands of continuous quality improvement projects over the past two decades. Organized by topical area, this article provides dozens of useful examples of those projects as well as links that offer further details.

Included on this page, you'll find a roundup of examples, including CQI projects that improved overall healthcare, CQI projects that improve long-term disease management, projects that reduced medical errors, and many more.

What Is Quality Improvement in HEA?

Healthcare quality improvement is the process of continually assessing and enhancing the effectiveness, safety, and efficiency of healthcare services given to patients. Actions include analyzing data, identifying improvement areas, and installing evidence-based solutions to enhance the quality of patient care.

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Overall Patient Care

Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico performed a quality improvement project to improve how it processed complaints from its members about quality-of-care issues at health facilities. Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Patient Screening and Other Diagnostic Procedures to Detect Disease

Stanford University Healthcare instituted a quality improvement project to improve the breast positions in mammograms in order to detect breast cancer. This project helped increase the accuracy of Stanford’s mammograms by 36 percent, meaning that breast cancer was detected earlier in many cases. Other projects include the following:

  • A Resident-Led Quality Improvement Initiative: The Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio undertook this project to improve outpatient colorectal cancer screening rates.
  • The Improvement of Metabolic and Diabetes Screenings: This was an effort to improve metabolic and diabetes screenings for patients in Missouri who received Medicaid and Medicare services and had a mental illness and at least three chronic health conditions. The initiative significantly increased the percentage of patients who had appropriate screening.

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in the Long-Term Management of Diseases

Blood pressure control reduces the chance of serious complications associated with diabetes. The Huron Valley Physicians Association in Ann Arbor, Michigan implemented a quality improvement project to better monitor and control the blood pressure of patients with diabetes. Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Managing Pregnancies and Improving Perinatal Outcomes

Identifying and managing pregnancy risks early in a woman’s pregnancy is vital for the health of the mother and unborn baby. The National Health Service in Scotland implemented a quality improvement program that engages women in the development of a system that will assess and manage those risks. Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Reducing Medical Errors, Medication Errors, and Adverse Drug Events

Communication errors are one of the leading causes of medical errors — this translates to poor patient outcomes, longer hospital stays, and increased costs. Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. worked on a quality improvement project to improve communication among medical professionals during the providers’ daily rounds. Other projects include the following:

  • The Addressing of Risks for Error in the Process of Administering Dialysis: This study involved a Utah hospital.
  • The Targeting of Wrong Dose Medication Errors: This study involved a California hospital.
  • The Addressing of Infusion Drug Errors: This study involved an 11-bed pediatric intensive care unit in a children’s hospital.
  • The Systematic Analysis for Improvement in the Ordering and Administration of Potassium Chloride and Potassium Phosphate: This study involved three Canadian hospitals.
  • The Addressing of Medication Order Errors with Pediatric Oncology Patients: This study involved a Maryland academic medical center.
  • Error Detection Associated with Medication Administration: Baccalaureate nursing students at Pennsylvania University conducted this study.
  • The Addressing of Medication Errors and Adverse Drug Events (ADEs): The increased pharmacist staffing on patient care units that review orders reduced errors by 45 percent.
  • The Addressing of Errors Associated with Chemotherapy: A standardized procedure for changes in chemotherapy was established at a Netherlands hospital in order to prevent prior changes in chemotherapy that staffers made without the knowledge of nurses or other medical providers.
  • The Addressing of Adverse Drug Events Associated with Patient-Controlled Analgesia: Quality improvement changes at a California hospital included using a standard dosage protocol, ensuring that patient-controlled pumps were programmed correctly, and monitoring patients who were using the pumps.
  • A Transition of Care Pharmacy Program: This quality improvement program encourages pharmacists at Stanford Health Care to participate in daily rounds and reconcile medications on patient admission and discharge. Pharmacists also provide in-depth medication education to patients when they are discharged from the hospital.

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Reducing Hospital-Acquired Infections, Injuries, and Other Illnesses

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio embarked on a quality improvement program to try to prevent all hospital-acquired harm to patients — a significant problem at all U.S. hospitals. This quality improvement structure was expanded to create more than 150 patient harm-related projects. Over a three-year period, the hospital reduced its preventable harm events by 55 percent and its risk-adjusted mortality rate by almost 40 percent. Other projects include the following:

Improving the Treatment of Sepsis

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center in Louisiana embarked on a quality improvement program to reduce the number of patients who die from sepsis at its hospital. The quality improvement team implemented new protocols that followed best practices, improved the hospital’s analytics systems, and helped educate medical providers with data. After the team instituted the improvements, sepsis rates at the hospital declined to half the national average.

To learn more about the Thibodaux quality improvement program, check out “CQI in Healthcare: Principles, Process, and Tools.”

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in the Continuity of Care for Patients

About one third of the residents of long-term care facilities transfer to a hospital every year — many not able to communicate their medical needs. Communication and transfer reports between caregivers at each facility is often poor, resulting in unnecessary tests, increased hospital stays, and other issues. The University of Toronto hospital embarked on a quality improvement program to improve those communications. Other projects include the following:

Reducing Unnecessary Antibiotic Use

Stanford Healthcare implemented a quality improvement program to reduce the use of unnecessary antibiotics. The use of such antibiotics often doesn’t help patients, exposes them to unnecessary risks, and fosters the development across the world of drug-resistant bacteria.

Since 2012, Stanford has reduced its use of certain antibiotics by 50 percent and has stopped using an expensive antibiotic medicine that was sometimes administered to treat respiratory virus infections in certain patients. Stanford determined that there were no benefits to patients using the medicine.

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Reducing the Use of Expensive Technology and Care When It Won’t Help the Patient

The University of California at San Diego hospital implemented a quality improvement program to reduce the number of heart patients in special telemetry beds (which allow for continuous heart monitoring) when the patients received no benefit from that constant monitoring. Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Reducing Unnecessary Medical Procedures that Can Increase Patient Risks and Medical Costs

Restricting blood transfusions to only patients who unquestionably need them results in better outcomes for all patients. Rush University Hospital in Chicago implemented a quality improvement program to decrease the number of blood transfusions it performed every year. In the 13 months following the implementation of the change, blood transfusions were reduced by 36 percent. Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Reducing Health Inequities among Groups of Patients

About 30 percent of patients at Boston Medical Center had limited English proficiency, and the hospital had no system to ensure that families had in-person language interpreters when doctors were making their daily rounds to check on patients in the hospital’s pediatric ward. The center implemented a quality improvement program with the goal of having language interpreters available for at least 75 percent of daily rounds visits. Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Surgical Outcomes

A multidisciplinary team at Stanford Healthcare — including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, and others — worked on quality improvement initiatives to improve patient care before and after surgery. The initiatives tried to better manage pain in patients, reduce opiate use, and get patients walking and moving more quickly after surgery. The overall goal was to reduce the stress of surgery and promote quicker surgical recoveries.

Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Managing and Increasing Efficiencies for Patient Service: Appointments, Discharges, Follow-Up Care, and Emergency Department Service

Delays in discharging patients from a hospital at the appropriate time is frustrating to patients and costly for both patients and hospitals. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center worked on a quality improvement project to improve the process and allow for discharges soon after medical providers determine that patients are ready to be discharged. After the hospital implemented the project, at least four fifths of patients were discharged within two hours of meeting the medical criteria for discharge — which also meant an estimated $5.9 million in yearly cost savings. Other projects include the following:

Examples of Quality Improvement Projects in Operational Efficiencies in a Medical Facility

A student-run, free health clinic at the University of South Florida worked on a quality improvement project to increase the efficiency of patient care. The clinic had a four-month wait time for routine appointments. The project’s aim was to increase efficiency and reduce the time it took for medical providers to see patients and complete patient visits. Other projects include the following:

To learn more about quality improvement projects in nursing care and get a specific guide on improved nursing care, check out “Quality Improvement in Nursing 101: Strategies, Examples and Tools.”

Hypothetical Example Projects from the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians offers some guidance on quality improvement projects, including a number of example projects that medical facilities throughout the U.S. could tackle.  Example projects include the following:

  • Document that your providers have checked with patients as to whether they’ve had an influenza vaccination.
  • Make a list of diabetic patients from 19 to 59 years old and determine whether or not they’ve had a Hepatitis B vaccination.
  • Conduct a review of your facility’s healthcare workers to determine whether or not they’ve had immunizations for hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, and varicella.
  • Provide information to pregnant women about the Tdap vaccine, which contains vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
  • Identify patients who have started the series of vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and send those patients a reminder to get the follow-up dose.
  • Use Medicare’s Hospital Compare data to track your organization’s rates of vaccinations for influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.

To learn more about steps to implement a quality improvement program, features of an effective program, and how to measure results, check out “A Business Guide to Effective Quality Improvement in Healthcare.”

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