Quality Improvement & Sustainability Strategies

How can Tobacco Control Program Staff encourage behavioral health teams to Enhance Quality Improvement and Sustainability Efforts for tobacco treatment services? 

The key to effective quality improvement and long-term sustainability of system changes to integrate tobacco treatment services in behavioral health is the consistent, on-going evaluation of both outcomes and processes.

There are always ways to make processes better:

  • Increasing efficiency and improving time management
    1. This might look like streamlining an activity or improving a workflow by eliminating a step or steps that don’t add value to a system process.  
  • Improving Workflow
    1. This improvement can impact the quality and delivery of tobacco treatment services at all levels- from the ask, the advise, and the referral for treatment.
  • Increasing returns on investments 
    1. This might look like changing the allocation of budgets or staff time to adjust in order to add more value to a system process
  • Optimizing the Work Environment
    1. This might look like organizational policy changes to enhance or support a tobacco-free environment. Other changes to optimize the work environment might be securing marketing or treatment materials to aid in staff’s use of key items to communicate with patients about tobacco treatment services.
  • Improving client/patient experiences
    1. In order to benefit from comprehensive tobacco treatment, clients and patients need to know that they can recover from tobacco use and dependence. Marketing materials like signage and other tools can encourage utilization and bi-directional communications between clients or patients and an organization’s staff.
  • Increasing process consistency 
    1. This might look like enhancements to an organization’s EHR system through the use of clinical reminders and other key EHR tools that encourage screening, assessment and referral for treatment of tobacco use and dependency. Consistent adherence to a process improves outcomes and can highlight opportunities for further improvement.  
  • Error proofing processes 
    1. This might look like ensuring that best practice reminders are enabled in their Electronic Health Record (EHR) or Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems, and that those best practice reminders follow the newest evidence-based clinical recommendations. This EHR improvement can reduce errors by making best practices an inherent part of the process. Error proofing impacts client and patient safety and can improve outcomes.

Encourage organizational leadership to conduct quality improvement activities to define outcomes, monitor progress, and improve tobacco treatment services. By continuously exploring quality improvement to identify opportunities, and meaningfully adjusting processes an organization can support better performance, tobacco treatment will continue to thrive and become a fully integrating component of behavioral health services.


Public Health Roadmap: A guide to Quality Improvement for Tobacco Control Program Staff (Late Summer, 2021)
  • Quality Measures and Tobacco Cessation


Page last updated: June 8, 2021

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