Applying Collaborative Learning and Quality Improvement to Public Health: Lessons from the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Reduce Infant Mortality

Matern Child Health J. 2017 Jun;21(6):1318-1326. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-2235-2.


Objectives: Infant mortality remains a significant public health problem in the U.S. The Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Network (CoIIN) model is an innovative approach, using the science of quality improvement and collaborative learning, which was applied across 13 Southern states in Public Health Regions IV and VI to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes. We provide an in-depth discussion of the history, development, implementation, and adaptation of the model based on the experience of the original CoIIN organizers and participants. In addition to the political genesis and functional components of the initiative, 8 key lessons related to staffing, planning, and implementing future CoIINs are described in detail.

Methods: This paper reports the findings from a process evaluation of the model. Data on the states' progress toward reducing infant mortality and improving birth outcomes were collected through a survey in the final months of a 24-month implementation period, as well as through ongoing team communications.

Results: The peer-to-peer exchange and platform for collaborative learning, as well as the sharing of data across the states, were major strengths and form the foundation for future CoIIN efforts. A lasting legacy of the initiative is the unique application and sharing of provisional "real time" data to inform "real time" decision-making.

Conclusion: The CoIIN model of collaborative learning, QI, and innovation offers a promising approach to strengthening partnerships within and across states, bolstering data systems to inform and track progress more rapidly, and ultimately accelerating improvement toward healthier communities, States, and the Nation as a whole.

Keywords: Collaborative learning; Infant mortality; Quality improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Interdisciplinary Placement*
  • Organizational Innovation*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Health
  • Quality Improvement*