The OPQ Cycle: Getting to Results

As stated in the Overview, OPQ is a cyclical process of:

  • Analyzing current levels of performance against quality standards, expected outcomes, and organizational goals
  • Implementing plans to improve performance
  • Monitoring progress
  • Feeding this information back into a continuing cycle of reflection, learning, improving performance and quality, and building on strengths and successes

When you complete your first OPQ cycle, you aren’t finished. The stakeholders who participated will have learned the process of comparing current performance with expectations and can repeat it to determine if gaps still exist. OPQ is not meant to be a one-off intervention; it’s a process that allows stakeholders to collect and use data to continually improve, adapt to changing environments, and identify and address emerging problems.

When you finish the first cycle, stakeholders and the implementation team can identify the changes that resulted in intended improvements and scale them up. If an intervention wasn’t as successful, stakeholders will now have the tools to analyze the root causes of why and test additional interventions. Sometimes there is gradual improvement toward desired performance, and stakeholders can analyze the data collected during monitoring and evaluation to measure, track, and learn what is improving and to what extent.

Stakeholders may need continued support to build their capacity for improvement. We recommend forming performance and quality teams to lead and continue the improvement process, exchange best practices, and audit and mentor each other’s progress.

Copyright IntraHealth International 2014Successful strategies for strengthening capacity and scaling up performance and quality improvements will depend on the existing systems and context, commitment of stakeholder leadership, and feasibility of improvement goals.

Remember, the overall goal of improving institutional or individual performance in the health care sector is to provide high-quality, sustainable health services for clients. Improving the performance of various elements of the health system, such as the health workforce, leadership and governance, service delivery, and medical products and technologies, contributes to improving health outcomes.