Scaling Up Improvements More Quickly and Effectively

Int J Qual Health Care. 2017 Dec 1;29(8):1014-1019. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzx147.


Faster and more widespread implementation could help more patients to benefit more quickly from known effective treatments. So could more effective implementation of better assessment methods, service delivery models, treatments and services. Implementation at scale and 'descaling' are ways for hospitals and health systems to respond to rising demands and costs. The paper proposes ways to provide leaders with the information that would help them to decide whether and how to scale up a proven improvement. We draw on our knowledge of the improvement and implementation literature on the subject and on our experience of scale up programs in Kaiser Permanente, in Swedish county health systems, and in international health. We describe a '3S' scale up infrastructure and other ingredients that appear necessary for successful widespread improvement, and list the resources that we have found useful for developing scale up programs. The paper aims to encourage more actionable research into scale up, and shows the opportunities for researchers to both advance implementation and improvement science and contribute to reducing suffering and costs in a more timely and effective way.

Keywords: appropriateness; general methodology; quality improvement < quality management; under-use and over-use < appropriate health care.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Humans
  • Quality Improvement / economics
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Quality of Health Care / economics
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Sweden
  • United States