How Do Teams in Quality Improvement Collaboratives Interact?

Published in: Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, v. 33, no. 5, May 2007, p. 267-276

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2006

by Jill A. Marsteller, Stephen M. Shortell, Michael Lin, Peter Mendel, Elizabeth Dell, Stephanie Wang, Shan Cretin, Marjorie L. Pearson, Shin-Yi Wu, Mayde Rosen

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BACKGROUND: The multi-organizational collaborative is a popular model for quality improvement (QI) initiatives. It assumes organizations will share information and social support. However, there is no comprehensive documentation of the extent to which teams do interact. Considering QI collaboratives as networks, interactions among teams were documented, and the associations between network roles and performance were examined. METHODS: A telephone survey of official team contact persons for 94 site teams in three QI collaboratives was conducted in 2002 and 2003. Four performance measures were used to assess the usefulness of ties to other teams and being considered a leader by peers. RESULTS: Eighty percent of the teams said they would contact another team again if they felt the need. Teams made a change as a direct result of interaction in 86% of reported relationships. Teams typically exchanged tools such as software and interacted outside of planned activities. Having a large number of ties to other teams is strongly related to the number of mentions as a leader. Both of these variables are related to faculty-assessed performance, number of changes the team made to improve care, and depth of those changes. DISCUSSION: The findings suggest that collaborative teams do indeed exchange important information, and the social dynamics of the collaboratives contribute to individual and collaborative success.

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