QUERI – Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

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Leading Healthcare Improvement: Leadership Training for Applying Improvement Strategies

Houston, TX

Principal Investigator: Kyler Godwin, PhD, MPH; contact at Kyler.Godwin@va.gov


Healthcare systems are complex. Sustaining improvements in healthcare quality requires the use of tailored implementation strategies. However, the use of implementation strategies without an understanding of different organizational and leadership contexts results in healthcare improvements that are variably successful due to partial implementation or limited sustainability. The diffusion of clinical best practices requires effective leaders at every level of the healthcare system, including frontline providers and operational staff. Health professionals trained in leadership principles and adept with improvement strategies are better equipped to translate clinical best-practices within a local healthcare context, manage interpersonal relationships effectively, and cultivate partnerships needed to spread and sustain improvement. Despite the necessity of and synergy for teaching implementation strategies and leadership concepts together, these methods are usually taught in isolation.

The Leading Healthcare Improvement: Leadership Training for Applying Improvement Strategies QUERI training hub integrates the strength of evidence-based quality improvement and leadership skills for change management to successfully implement best practices and focus resources within VA more efficiently. Both strategies have been used to implement and sustain change in healthcare settings, but an integrated training in these two areas has not existed previously.

 Leading Healthcare Improvement conceptual ModelQUERI investigators have developed a methodology called “Leading Healthcare Improvement (LHI)” to train VA Quality Scholar Fellows in a single methodology derived from evidence-based strategies for quality improvement and leadership skills for change management. The VA Quality Scholars (VAQS) program develops leaders and scholars to improve healthcare.


Specific objectives for this QUERI Training Hub include:

  • Using principles of human-centered design to adapt LHI tools and materials for frontline providers and operational staff;
  • Creating enduring educational products to be used by LHI trainees; and
  • Building relationships with leadership at QUERI and the Diffusion of Excellence (DOE) program to facilitate recruitment and training of Gold Status Fellows. The Diffusion of Excellence Initiative helps identify and disseminate best practices through a learning environment that empowers its top performers to apply their innovative ideas throughout the VA healthcare system.

Anticipated Impacts:

This training will be implemented with frontline providers in VA facilities that are implementing Gold Status Practices as well as with VA’s National TeleStroke Program. The number of Veterans impacted will vary depending on the Gold Status Practice being implemented and the number of TeleStroke sites that are able to participate. The Leading Healthcare Improvement Training Hub Site will impact VA nationally by providing integrated training in quality improvement methods and leadership skills to frontline providers across VA, thereby enabling them to more effectively implement best practices.

Operations Partners: VA’s Diffusion of Excellence and the National TeleStroke Program.