Glossary of Terms

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement has a glossary of improvement terminology.

Additional Quality and/or Process Improvement Terms:

Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) – National standard/ methodology for collecting and publically reporting information about the patient’s experience of care.

Kaizen - Japanese for "improvement" or "change for the best", refers to philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, and business management. It has also been applied in healthcare.

Lean – Derived mostly from the Toyota Production System. A systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste through continuous improvement by flowing the product at the demand of the customer in the pursuit of perfection. It takes into account value to the customer from the perspective of what they are willing to pay for. Basically it is centered on preserving value with less work.

Nominal Group Technique - A “group” problem solving (brainstorming) process involving problem identification, solution generation, and decision making. It can be used in groups of many sizes, who want quick decisions. It involves a process in which everyone's opinions are taken into account and solutions (action items) are determined through a tallying and ranking process.

Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) - Rapid improvement events are part of the Lean toolkit and provide a mechanism for making radical changes to current processes and activities within very short timescales.

Six Sigma – A process improvement methodology originally developed by Motorola. Six Sigma aims to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods.

Toyota Production System (TPS) – A precursor for the “Lean” system of production. A system of practices originally developed for the Toyota auto industry, but now being applied to various settings including healthcare. The main objectives of the TPS are to design out overburden, inconsistency and to eliminate waste.

Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB) – A process improvement model started in 2003 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute for Healthcare Improvement focusing on a framework for change on medical-surgical units built around improvements in four main categories:
• Safe and Reliable Care
• Vitality and Teamwork
• Patient-Centered Care
• Value-Added Care Processes

Value Based Purchasing – A federal government program established by the Affordable Care Act with a focus on “quality” of care versus “quantity” of care to promote better clinical outcomes for hospital patients as well as improve their care experience. Financial incentive payments to hospitals beginning in Federal Fiscal Year 2013, is based on the hospital’s performance on identified measures or how much performance has improved from baseline including HCAHPS, Outcomes (HACs/Mortality), Care Measures, and Efficiency measures.