Quality Improvement (QI) – Closing the gap between research and clinical practice

Connect Health brings together clinical and industry experts to discuss translation of knowledge into practice to improve patient outcomes.

1 February 2021

­The latest in the “Connect Health Change” webinar series took place on 20 January on Quality Improvement (QI). The need to close the gap between research and clinical practice is well considered and one area which has shown great promise and continues to deliver positive outcomes is that of Quality Improvement (QI). Despite this, understanding of, engagement with, and benefits realised from QI is variable within healthcare.

The QI webinar looked at QI from multiple stakeholder perspectives including clinicians, QI specialists, academics, commissioners, operations and ICS leaders with the aim of providing an understanding and clear direction to aid the translation of knowledge into practice to improve patient outcomes.


Chaired by Andrew Cuff, Consultant Physiotherapist and Regional Clinical Lead (North), Connect Health, who kicked off the discussion.

I am of the opinion that within healthcare we should all be committed to continuous improvement and we are in the business of change. Recent months have once again taught us that the only constant thing in life is change, and as well as an importance of science, research and translation of knowledge into healthcare delivery, it’s also taught us the value of hairdressers.


The webinar heard from:

Honorary Prof Kay Stevenson, Consultant Physiotherapist, Honorary Professor of Musculoskeletal Care and Leadership, Versus Arthritis Clinical Champion, Keele University and Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. She spoke about the translation of knowledge from academia to clinical practice and covered three areas:

Firstly a method called critically appraised topic groups, which bring together the best of both clinical practice, the research knowledge and our librarians leading to a facilitation of very rapid change in practice; secondly a method called a community of practice. I’ve used this in two major projects recently, firstly translating the evidence from the NIHR’s moving forward themed review and a second project about exploring the links between mental health and neck/back pain and communities of practice; my third methodology is exploratory methods or people power and we’ve recently taken a couple of steps into the unknown by employing two different types of roles – the patient voice to make sure it is heard, recognised and acknowledged and we also have employed an activity coordinator.


Prof Chris Littlewood, Professor of Musculoskeletal Research, Manchester Metropolitan University, took us through his talk on ‘Research brings opportunity, not threat, so let’s embrace it’. He started by saying;

Any process of meaningful change begins with a meaningful problem and continued to point out that what research helps us to do is recognise that we’re only scratching the surface and we can choose to keep our head in the sand or we can really think about how these research findings might stimulate us to practice differently to improve what we offer.

Andrea Gibbons
, @Evidence4QI Founder & Improvement Evidence Lead, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust talked about using evidence for quality improvement in healthcare.

My experience is that quality improvement teams do not necessarily routinely look at what is going on elsewhere in other trusts meaning we may repeat mistakes, work less efficiently, make uninformed decisions and reinvent the wheel. I’m leading a national project at the moment which is funded by the Health Foundation and NHS England and Improvement, which was voted for by the 4000 plus members of the Q community and aims to connect QI teams together with evidence.

Andrea shared the following links:


Luke Baumber, Associate Director of Quality Improvement, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, discussed using data and KPIs to change and enhance behaviours and performance in Nottinghamshire. Finding time in between his QI role and managing the Integrated Care System’s vaccination centre, Luke added;

Quality improvement is very much about being staff led to culturally embed quality improvement across a whole workforce. It’s really important that it is patient centred but not in a tokenistic tick box way. We’re looking at good quality co-production so we can design quality improvements together. Our quality improvement training approach covers modules around demand, capacity, project management, measurement, sustainability, creativity and a whole range of learning to increase the capability and confidence of the workforce in the local system.


Rob Tyer, Advanced Practice Physiotherapist (APP) and clinical lead, Northumberland Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service, covered an overview of the Connect Health 10/10 Clinical Support Tools, how they were developed, their aims and why they help knowledge translation. He concluded;

The Clinical Support Tools use a traffic light system where green would be clear evidence of effectiveness in the literature with minimal known risks; amber would represent less certainty within the evidence and the potential need of a shared decision-making process; and a red score represents an absence of evidence or clear known risk where we would discourage people from using those interventions unless there is absolutely no alternative.

15 infographic summaries for each clinical support tool


Watch the webinar again which includes further insight from the speakers including a full Q&A session:

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Speaker Biographies

Q&A Summary


Further reading