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Performance Management and Quality Improvement

This graphic displays a circle, labeled Performance Management System, inside a square segmented into four sections that point to the middle circle.

Source: Turning Point's Performance Management Collaborative

Definitions and Concepts

In recent years, there has been a rapidly growing interest in performance and quality improvement within the public health community. In reviewing definitions and activities in public health and other sectors, it is apparent that different names and labels are often used to describe similar concepts or activities. Other sectors, such as industry and hospitals, have embraced a diverse and evolving set of terms but which generally have the same principles at heart (i.e., continuous quality improvement, quality improvement, performance improvement, six sigma, and total quality management).

In the public health field, an array of initiatives has set the stage for attention to improving public health practice, but has used assorted terms as well. The Turning Point Collaborative focused on performance management, the National Public Health Performance Standards Program uses national standards to drive performance improvement, the Multi-State Learning Collaborative has addressed quality improvement, while the US Department of Health and Human Services has provided recommendations on how to achieve quality in public health. Drawing from all of these efforts, the Public Health Accreditation Board is preparing to launch a national voluntary accreditation program that catalyzes quality improvement but also acknowledges the importance of performance management within public health agencies. Regardless of the terminology, a common thread has emerged; one that focuses on continuous improvement and operational excellence within public health programs, agencies, and the public health system.

To anchor common thinking, below are some of the definitions that are frequently used throughout these pages and its resources.

Key Definitions