Quality Improvement

There are several approaches and models for implementing continuous quality improvement, which can be applied to substance abuse treatment agencies, in addition to a variety of other settings. Several federal partners have adopted the Process Improvement Model. This model of continuous quality improvement uses the following four main steps: Plan, Do, Study, and Act (PDSA). A core characteristic of the continuous quality improvement process is that you are continually engaged in improving quality.

The PDSA Cycle

Each step of the PDSA cycle involves major activities that give you opportunities to involve your staff, include your clients, and to ensure a relevant, doable, and successful improvement process.

Plan
  • Identify one specific area for improvement at a time.
  • Decide on which strategy to use for that specific area of improvement.
Do
  • Implement the planned change in your treatment setting (often on a pilot basis).
Study
  • Assess the effects, both positive and negative.
Act
  • Expand implementation if the effort is successful.
  • Consider other strategies if the effort is unsuccessful.
  • Once this problem has been successfully addressed, identify another area or strategy for improvement.