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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality
Improvement

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What is the difference between Quality Improvement and Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance (QA) measures compliance against certain necessary standards.  Quality improvement is a continuous improvement process.  QA is required and normally focuses on individuals, while QI is a proactive approach to improve processes and systems.  Standards and measures developed for quality assurance, however, can inform the quality improvement process.  The chart below details and categorizes the distinctions between QA and QI.

 

Quality Assurance

Quality Improvement

Motivation

Measuring compliance with standards

Continuously improving processes to meet standards

Means

Inspection

Prevention

Attitude

Required, defensive

Chosen, proactive

Focus

Outliers: "bad apples"

Individuals

Processes

Systems

Scope

Medical provider

Patient care

Responsibility

Few

All

Related Resources:

Contrasting QI and QA go to exit disclaimer- Duke University
National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) go to exit disclaimer
The Role of Quality Assurance Versus Continuous Quality Improvement go to exit disclaimer- Journal of Vascular Surgery

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