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What is a Breakthrough Series Collaborative?

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement developed the Breakthrough Series to help health care organizations make “breakthrough” improvements in quality while reducing costs. The driving vision behind the Breakthrough Series is this: sound science exists on the basis of which the costs and outcomes of current health care practices can be greatly improved, but much of this science lies fallow and unused in daily work. There is a gap between what we know and what we do (The Breakthrough Series: IHI’s Collaborative Model for Achieving Breakthrough Improvement, 2003).

The Breakthrough Series is designed to help organizations close that gap by creating a structure in which interested organizations can easily learn from each other and from recognized experts in topic areas where they want to make improvements. A Breakthrough Series Collaborative is a short-term (6- to 15-month) learning system that brings together a large number of teams from hospitals or clinics to seek improvement in a focused topic area.

Teams in such Collaboratives have achieved dramatic results, including reducing waiting times by 50 percent, reducing worker absenteeism by 25 percent, reducing ICU costs by 25 percent, and reducing hospitalizations for patients with congestive heart failure by 50 percent. In addition, IHI has trained over 650 people in the Breakthrough Series methodology, thus spawning hundreds of Collaborative initiatives throughout the health care world, sponsored by organizations other than IHI (The Breakthrough Series: IHI’s Collaborative Model for Achieving Breakthrough Improvement, 2003).

Through repeated cycles of testing the ideas of how to improve the implementation will be refined

Data will be collected throughout the Collaborative by local staff. Organizations will be expected to sign a compact agreeing the expectation of reliable data collection and in return will receive robust support.


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