Practical Applications of Rapid Qualitative Analysis for Operations, Quality Improvement, and Research in Dynamically Changing Hospital Environments

Angela Keniston, Lauren McBeth, Gopi Astik, Andrew Auerbach, Johanna Busch, Kirsten N. Kangelaris, Shradha A. Kulkarni, Anne S. Linker, Matthew Sakumoto, Luci Leykum, Marisha Burden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Health care systems are in a constant state of change. As such, methods to quickly acquire and analyze data are essential to effectively evaluate current processes and improvement projects. Rapid qualitative analysis offers an expeditious approach to evaluate complex, dynamic, and time-sensitive issues. Methods: We used rapid data acquisition and qualitative methods to assess six real-world problems the hospitalist field faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. We iteratively modified and applied a six-step framework for conducting rapid qualitative analysis, including determining if rapid methods are appropriate, creating a team, selecting a data collection approach, data analysis, and synthesis and dissemination. Virtual platforms were used for focus groups and interviews; templated summaries and matrix analyses were then applied to allow for rapid qualitative analyses. Results: We conducted six projects using rapid data acquisition and rapid qualitative analysis from December 4, 2020, to January 14, 2022, each of which included 23 to 33 participants. One project involved participants from a single institution; the remainder included participants from 15 to 24 institutions. These projects led to the refinement of an adapted rapid qualitative method for evaluation of hospitalist-driven operational, research, and quality improvement efforts. We describe how we used these methods and disseminated our results. We also discuss situations for which rapid qualitative methods are well-suited and strengths and weaknesses of the methods. Conclusion: Rapid qualitative methods paired with rapid data acquisition can be employed for prompt turnaround assessments of quality, operational, and research projects in complex health care environments. Although rapid qualitative analysis is not meant to replace more traditional qualitative methods, it may be appropriate in certain situations. Application of a framework to guide projects using a rapid qualitative approach can help provide structure to the analysis and instill confidence in the findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


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