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Assignment: Evidence-Based Practice and the Quadruple Aim
Healthcare organizations continually seek to optimize healthcare performance. For years, this approach was a three-pronged one known as the Triple Aim, with efforts focused on improved population health, enhanced patient experience, and lower healthcare costs.
More recently, this approach has evolved to a Quadruple Aim by including a focus on improving the work life of healthcare providers. Each of these measures are impacted by decisions made at the organizational level, and organizations have increasingly turned to EBP to inform and justify these decisions.
? Read the articles by Sikka, Morath, & Leape (2015); Crabtree, Brennan, Davis, & Coyle (2016); and Kim et al. (2016) provided in the Resources. Please see attached article
? Reflect on how EBP might impact (or not impact) the Quadruple Aim in healthcare.
? Consider the impact that EBP may have on factors impacting these quadruple aim elements, such as preventable medical errors or healthcare delivery.
Write a brief analysis (no longer than 2 pages) of the connection between EBP and the Quadruple Aim.
Your analysis should address how EBP might (or might not) help reach the Quadruple Aim, including each of the four measures of:
? Patient experience
? Population health
? Work life of healthcare providers
The Quadruple Aim: care, health,
cost and meaning in work
Rishi Sikka,1 Julianne M Morath,2 Lucian Leape3
1Advocate Health Care, Downers
Grove, Illinois, USA
2Hospital Quality Institute,
Sacramento, California, USA
3Harvard School of Public
Health, Boston, Massachusetts,
Dr Rishi Sikka, Advocate
Health Care, 3075 Highland
Avenue, Suite 600, Downers
Grove, Il 60515, USA;
Received 5 March 2015
Revised 6 May 2015
Accepted 16 May 2015
To cite: Sikka R, Morath JM,
Leape L. BMJ Qual Saf
In 2008, Donald Berwick and colleagues
provided a framework for the delivery of
high value care in the USA, the Triple
Aim, that is centred around three over-
arching goals: improving the individual
experience of care; improving the health
of populations; and reducing the per
capita cost of healthcare.1 The intent is
that the Triple Aim will guide the redesign
of healthcare systems and the transition to
population health. Health systems glo-
bally grapple with these challenges of
improving the health of populations while
simultaneously lowering healthcare costs.
As a result, the Triple Aim, although ori-
ginally conceived within the USA, has
been adopted as a set of principles for
health system reform within many organi-
sations around the world.
The successful achievement of the
Triple Aim requires highly effective
healthcare organisations. The backbone of
any effective healthcare system is an
engaged and productive workforce.2 But
the Triple Aim does not explicitly acknow-
ledge the critical role of the workforce in
healthcare transformation. We propose a
modification of the Triple Aim to acknow-
ledge the importance of physicians, nurses
and all employees finding joy and
meaning in their work. This ?Quadruple
Aim? would add a fourth aim: improving
the experience of providing care.
The core of workforce engagement is
the experience of joy and meaning in the
work of healthcare. This is not synonym-
ous with happiness, rather that all
members of the workforce have a sense
of accomplishment and meaning in their
contributions. By meaning, we refer to
the sense of importance of daily work.
By joy, we refer to the feeling of success
and fulfilment that results from meaning-
ful work. In the UK, the National Health
Service has captured this with the notion
of an engaged staff that ?think and act in
a positive way about the work they do,
the people they work with and the organ-
isation that they work in?.3
The evidence that the healthcare work-
force finds joy and meaning in work is
not encouraging. In a recent physician
survey in the USA, 60% of respondents
indicated they were considering leaving
practice; 70% of surveyed physicians
knew at least one colleague who left their
practice due to poor morale.2 A 2015
survey of British physicians reported
similar findings with approximately 44%
of respondents reporting very low or low
morale.4 These findings also extend to
the nursing profession. In a 2013 US
survey of registered nurses, 51% of
nurses worried that their job was affect-
ing their health; 35% felt like resigning
from their current job.5 Similar findings
have been reported across Europe, with
rates of nursing job dissatisfaction
ranging from 11% to 56%.6
This absence of joy and meaning experi-
enced by a majority of the healthcare
workforce is in part due to the threats of
psychological and physical harm that are
common in the work environment.
Workforce injuries are much more frequent
in healthcare than in other industries. For
some, such as nurses? aides, orderlies and
attendants, the rate is four times the indus-
trial average.7 More days are lost due to
occupational illness and injury in health-
care than in mining, machinery manufac-
turing or construction.7
The risk of physical harm is dwarfed
by the extent of psychological harm in
the complex environment of the health-
care workplace. Egregious examples
include bullying, intimidation and phys-
ical assault. Far more prevalent is the psy-
chological harm due to lack of respect.
This dysfunction is compounded by pro-
duction pressure, poor design of work
flow and the proportion of non-value
The current dysfunctional healthcare
work environment is in part a by-product
of the gradual shift in healthcare from a
public service to a business model that
occurred in the latter half of the 20th
608 Sikka R, et al. BMJ Qual Saf 2015;24:608?610. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2015-004160
century.8 Complex, intimate caregiving relationships
have been reduced to a series of transactional demand-
ing tasks, with a focus on productivity and efficiency,
fuelled by the pressures of decreasing reimbursement.
These forces have led to an environment with lack
of teamwork, disrespect between colleagues and lack
of workforce engagement. The problems exist from
the level of the front-line caregivers, doctors and
nurses, who are burdened with non-caregiving work,
to the healthcare leader with bottom-line worries and
disproportionate reporting requirements. Without joy
and meaning in work, the workforce cannot perform
at its potential. Joy and meaning are generative and
allow the best to be contributed by each individual,
and the teams they comprise, towards the work of the
Triple Aim every day.
The precondition for restoring joy and meaning is
to ensure that the workforce has physical and psycho-
logical freedom from harm, neglect and disrespect.
For a health system aspiring to the Triple Aim, fulfill-
ing this precondition must be a non-negotiable, endur-
ing property of the system. It alone does not
guarantee the achievement of joy and meaning,
however the absence of a safe environment guarantees
robbing people of joy and meaning in their work.
Cultural freedom from physical and psychological
harm is the right thing to do and it is smart economics
because toxic environments impose real costs on the
organisation, its employees, physicians, patients and
ultimately the entire population.
An organisation focused on enabling joy and
meaning in work and pursuit of the Triple Aim needs
to embody shared core values of mutual respect and
civility, transparency and truth telling and the safety
of the workforce. It recognises the work and accom-
plishments of the workforce regularly and with high
visibility. For the individual, these notions of joy and
meaning in healthcare work are recognised in three
critical questions posed by Paul O?Neill, former chair-
man and chief executive officer of Alcoa. This is an
internal gut-check, that needs to be answered affirma-
tively by each worker each day:2
1. Am I treated with dignity and respect by everyone,
everyday, by everyone I encounter, without regard to
race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religious belief, sexual
orientation, title, pay grade or number of degrees?
2. Do I have the things I need: education, training, tools,
financial support, encouragement, so I can make a con-
tribution this organisation that gives meaning to my life?
3. Am I recognised and thanked for what I do?
If each individual in the workforce cannot answer
affirmatively to these questions, the full potential to
achieve patient safety, effective outcomes and lower
costs is compromised.
The leadership and governance of our healthcare
systems currently have strong economic and outcome
motivations to focus on the Triple Aim. They also
need to feel a parallel moral obligation to the
workforce to create an environment that ensures joy
and meaning in work. For this reason, we recommend
adding a fourth essential aim: improving the experi-
ence of providing care. The notion of changing the
objective to the Quadruple Aim recognises this focus
within the context of the broader transformation
required in our healthcare system towards high value
care. While the first three aims provide a rationale for
the existence of a health system, the fourth aim
becomes a foundational element for the other goals to
Progress on this fourth goal in the Quadruple Aim
can be measured through metrics focusing on two
broad areas: workforce engagement and workforce
safety. Workforce engagement can be assessed through
annual surveys using established frameworks that
allow for benchmarking within industry and with
non-healthcare industries.9 Measures should also be
extended to quantify the opposite of engagement,
workforce burn-out. This could include select ques-
tions from the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the gold
standard for measuring employee burn-out.10 In the
realm of workforce safety, metrics should include
quantifying work-related deaths or disability, lost time
injuries, government mandated reported injuries and
all injuries. Although these measures do not com-
pletely quantify the experience of providing care, they
provide a practical start that is familiar and allow for
an initial baseline assessment and monitoring for
The rewards of the Quadruple Aim, achieved within
an inspirational workplace could be immense. No
other industry has more potential to free up resources
from non-value added and inefficient production
practices than healthcare; no other industry has more
potential to use its resources to save lives and reduce
human suffering; no other industry has the potential
to deliver the value envisioned by The Triple Aim on
such an audacious scale. The key is the fourth aim:
creating the conditions for the healthcare workforce
to find joy and meaning in their work and in doing
so, improving the experience of providing care.
Contributors All authors assisted in the drafting of this
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally
1 Berwick DM, Nolan TW, Whittington J. The triple aim: care,
health and cost. Health Aff 2008;27:759?69.
2 Lucian Leape Institute. 2013. Through the eyes of the
workforce: creating joy, meaning and safer health care. Boston,
MA: National Patient Safety Foundation.
3 NHS employers staff engagement. http://www.nhsemployers.
org/staffengagement (accessed 4 May 2015).
4 BMA Quarterly Tracker Survey. http://bma.org.uk/working-
Sikka R, et al. BMJ Qual Saf 2015;24:608?610. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2015-004160 609
tracker-survey/omnibus-survey-january-2015 (accessed 4 May
5 AMN Healthcare 2013 survey of registered nurses. http://www.
RNSurvey.pdf (accessed 4 May 2015).
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safety, satisfaction and quality of hospital care: cross sectional
surveys of nurses and patients in 12 countries in Europe and
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7 US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Workplace injuries and illnesses 2009. 21 October 2010.
(accessed 4 May 2015).
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9 Surveys on Patient Safety Culture. Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-
patient-safety/patientsafetyculture/index.html (accessed 4 May
10 Maslach C, Jackson S, Leiter M. Maslach burnout inventory
manual. 3rd edn. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists
610 Sikka R, et al. BMJ Qual Saf 2015;24:608?610. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2015-004160
- The Quadruple Aim: care, health, cost and meaning in work