At the basic practice level, quality Assurance activities monitor how closely each program and its services are conforming to the expectations defined by the programs associated procedures. The primary result of Quality Assurance activities is finding a program and its workers in or out of compliance with relevant procedures.
If out of compliance, the workers in the program develop a program improvement plan which, when approved, becomes a major focus of their work. This leads to an iterative process through which compliance increases over time.
Quality Assurance expands at the intermediate practice level to incorporate Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). The concept here is fairly simple.
Quality Assurance focuses on compliance with rules and procedures, determining the extent of compliance/non-compliance. Intervention, then, involves developing and following a plan to bring areas of non-compliance into compliance. In theory, it is possible to be in complete compliance.
CQI focuses on outcomes achievement, determining the extent to which the outcomes are being achieved. Intervention, then, involves developing a plan to more nearly achieve the specified outcomes. It is not possible to fully achieve the outcomes since, as outcome achievement is approached, the outcomes are modified or recalibrated to assure there is more room for improvement. This process is called raising the bar.
At the advanced practice level, values-centered practice is expected of all participants. Quality assurance and continuous quality improvement are assumed. Decisions and actions are in compliance with the rules and continuously improving in terms of quality and outcome attainment. Practice rests on shared value propositions.
How it works:
Quality assurance expands to incorporate Continuous Quality Improvement techniques and strategies. CQI in turn expands to adopt and incorporate shared value propositions serving as the foundation of practice. Simply improving practice is not enough. Everything workers and agencies do has to conform to the shared value propositions.