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Understanding customers' needs is the key to improvement

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 03 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1297

Richard Smith reports on the 2nd European Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care in Paris, organised by the BMJ and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston

Projects with a deep understanding of customers' needs are 16 times more likely to succeed than those that do not, according to a review of quality improvement projects.

David Gustafson, professor of industrial engineering and preventive medicine at the University of Wisconsin, said that comparisons between successful and failed projects showed that understanding customers' needs was the most important principle underlying quality improvement and seemed …

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