AUGUST 2020 - Securing systemic quality improvement through a network approach

The last blog in a series for network leaders in 2020 covering quality improvement in a pandemic.

Carol Read RN/MSc

We live in unusual times and this blog series has aimed to provide comprehensive resources to support networks and share insight from thought leaders from the UK and International backgrounds.  Malby's (2020) vlog series serves as a useful golden thread to bring the monthly topics to life by digging deep into leadership and organisational change that has taken place during the pandemic.  

For the final month the blog is focussed on securing systemic quality improvement through a network approach.  This is a challenging subject for network leaders as we are trying to reset, keep good practice that has evolved and ensure quality improvement at pace in the future.  It is worth reviewing the blog series to capture learning for your network from the past months.  Use the resources as thought starters in network sessions on how you can embed quality in your processes and systems.  The blogs are Developing your networks in a brave new world, Building networks for resilience during a pandemic and beyond and Pushing the reset button.

To help you through the content this month we focus on first setting in place good foundations for building quality improvement into your networks.  Key reports from the Health Foundation Leading networks in healthcare and Building Healthier communities should be your important cornerstone in your network.  These documents provide sound advice around purpose, integrated care and community and can be read in conjunction with resounces within the learning space.   

Two blogs demonstrate learning from and in the health and social care system.  Allwood covers bringing an improvement mindset to Covid-19 through her work at the Health Foundation and at the new Nightingale Hospital, whilst Johansson demonstrates, through his visit to Health Improvement Scotland where to start embedding quality improvement to your workplace or networks.  Gathering the evidence it is clear that QI works best as part of an improvement system consisting of three main elements:

  • Quality Planning: figuring out what you want the system to deliver and how to make that happen
  • Quality Control: a process of monitoring and adjusting the system to deliver the desired outcomes
  • Quality Improvement: using a systematic method to improve performance and quality

Together these form what is known as a Quality Management System (QMS). Health Improvement Scotland have shared their learning from a 90-day innovation cycle as well as other useful documents on their website, essential reading for improvers and network leaders.

It is difficult to imagine going back to the situation before Covid-19 so much learning has taken place and barriers reduced.  The following resources look at how you can develop network purpose in the new normal where we are still working at a distance.  The good clinical practice facilitators community used traditional methods and social media, deploying a hashtag on twitter to capture transformational change and improvement.  Multi -channel working fits with the new normal and it has been interesting to see how quickly this approach has been adopted by professionals and patients in networks.  Interestingly research in 2012 identified that social networks are the future for healthcare delivery, it only took a pandemic to make this practice mainstream. 

Finally, to get good results it is clear through the learning resources on this site that all networks have to be sure on their purpose.  The RSA video shows how network purpose can be developed around a social movement for good with global aspirations in the narrative of Parkrun.  Whilst global aspirations may not work for your network - how could you share your learning to a wider audience now that virtual conferencing is the norm?  Taking a different perspective away from healthcare the final article and video covers what can go wrong when working remotely and offers salient advice on managing teams and networks.  This blog has sought to review the monthly resources and show how they can be applied in practice within your networks.  Do let us know if there are other topics that would be helpful in the future for you to develop your network post covid-19.


Leading through a pandemic: Lessons for the NHS

Bringing an improvement mindset to Covid-19

Building the system, building in quality

Pushing the reset button


A social movement for the common good

Case studies

Good clinical practice facilitators community

What Network Science and Research on Astronauts Can Teach Us About Working Together When We Are Apart