What is Breakthrough Series Collaborative Methodology?

Developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement1, breakthrough series Collaborative Methodology is a short-term (12-18 months), structured approach to facilitate health system improvement in a specific topic area. The approach is generally employed where there is a gap between best-practice (evidence) and observed practice (current processes and outcomes). The method brings organizations together under a shared aim and common measurement system to use quality improvement techniques to test and implement changes aligned with shared aims. Participants in a Collaborative learn about models for effective change2, and evidence- and experience-based strategies to improve care and outcomes in the focused topic area.

Support activities include:

  • Monthly webinars
  • Quarterly in-person Learning Sessions
  • Monthly quality indicator collection and reporting
  • Coaching support
  • Electronic resources

Both the STOP HIV/AIDS® Structured Learning Collaborative and the HIV Continuum of Care Collaborative employed Breakthrough Series Collaborative methodology. The HIV Quality Improvement Network adapted the methodology for a less intensive, more self-directed structure to support teams with sustainability and ongoing improvement. For more information on the Breakthrough Series Collaborative methodology, visit IHI.org.

1. The Breakthrough Series: IHI’s Collaborative Model for Achieving Breakthrough Improvement. IHI Innovation Series white paper. Boston: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2003. (Available on www.IHI.org).
2. Langley GJ, Moen R, Nolan KM, et al. The Improvement Guide: A Practical Approach to Enhancing Organizational Performance. 2nd ed.  San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass 2009.