Improving health care, Part 4: Concepts for improving any clinical process.

P. B. Batalden*, J. J. Mohr, E. C. Nelson, S. K. Plume

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: One promising method for streamlining the generation of "good ideas" is to formulate what are sometimes called change concepts-general notions or approaches to change found useful in developing specific ideas for changes that lead to improvement. For example, in current efforts to reduce health care costs by discounting provider charges, the underlying generic concept is "reducing health care costs," and the specific idea is "discounting provider charges." Short-term gains in health care cost reduction can occur by pursuing discounts. After some time, however, limits to such reduction in costs are experienced. Persevering and continuing to travel down the "discounting provider charges" path is less likely to produce further substantial improvement than returning to the basic concept of "reducing health care costs." THE HIP REPLACEMENT CASE: An interdisciplinary team aiming to reduce costs while improving quality of care for patients in need of hip joint replacement generated ideas for changing "what's done (process) to get better results." After team members wrote down their improvement ideas, they deduced the underlying change concepts and used them to generate even more ideas for improvement. Such change concepts include reordering the sequence of steps (preadmission physical therapy "certification"), eliminating failures at hand-offs between steps (transfer of information from physician's office to hospital), and eliminating a step (epidural pain control). CONCLUSION: Learning about making change, encouraging change, managing the change within and across organizations, and learning from the changes tested will characterize the sustainable, thriving health systems of the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-659
Number of pages9
JournalThe Joint Commission journal on quality improvement
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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