A chief quality officer shakes hands with a physician.

What Does a Chief Quality Officer Do in a Health Care Setting

Nursing: Healthcare Systems Leadership

In health care delivery, quality care is a priority. The drive toward a value-based health care system, a model that pays providers based on whether they improved a patient’s health, forces health care facilities to evaluate their methods in ensuring patients receive the highest-quality care.

Many health care leaders believe that a chief quality officer serves a key role in ensuring that providers deliver the highest-quality care while lowering costs. By reducing ineffective care, waste, and harm to patients, chief quality officers can help their facilities to reduce per capita expenses and lead the charge in delivering the best care.  

The position of a chief quality officer is unique in a health care setting and requires specialized knowledge. Advanced nursing degree programs that focus on leadership in health care systems can cultivate the skills needed to succeed as a chief quality officer in hospitals and other health care facilities. Those inspired to take a leadership role in improving health care quality should consider the benefits of earning an online Master of Science in Nursing.

What Is a Chief Quality Officer?

Chief quality officers ensure that their organization’s products and services meet the highest standards. This requires gathering data to determine the quality of their organization’s products and services. For chief quality officers in health care settings, the data must demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care for providers to receive reimbursements and for facilities to secure good reputations.

Chief quality officers also must address quality problems such as misdiagnoses, readmissions, and hospital-acquired conditions (HACs). Additionally, chief quality officers collect customer feedback that offers insight into the performance of their organizations’ products and services. In a health care setting, surveys are conducted with patients about their experiences and state of health.

Chief quality officers use various analytical strategies to ensure that providers deliver quality health care. They analyze new methodologies that may positively impact nursing performance, patient safety, and employee satisfaction—all of which contribute to quality health care. They also examine processes, and make suggestions for improvement. Additionally, when organizing quality improvement initiatives, chief quality officers consider how to integrate new refined processes, collect feedback, and create reporting systems that facilitate clear communication between clinicians.

Chief quality officers must know how to develop a culture that promotes accountability and transparency and create an infrastructure that uses data to drive decision-making. To execute these duties in health care settings, they must possess in-depth clinical knowledge and understand the clinical implications of the infrastructures they create. This clinical knowledge also enables them to understand what impedes workflow processes.  In addition, it influences the way physicians and other clinicians view them.

Leadership in Chief Quality Officer Positions

Effective chief quality officers must possess strong leadership skills. Working in environments where emotionally-charged situations arise, they must know how to build teams and solve problems collaboratively. To improve the quality of health care delivery, they must lead organizational change, coordinating policies and resources while working with other executives and clinicians. Additionally, their leadership skills help them to implement quality initiatives and foster a culture for improvement. Other skills foundational to a chief quality officer’s role include advanced analytical, operational management, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program offers a core curriculum that builds these competencies. Courses provide students with the opportunity to study health care systems, with special attention given to health policy and the collaboration between different health professions. Courses also engage students in research on different evidence-based practices as well as nursing theories and their relationships to the needs of patients. Other courses address how technology and health informatics can impact health care quality. Health informatics is the practice of gathering, storing, and using health data to improve collaboration among a patient’s health care providers.

After completing core courses, students can elect a concentration in Healthcare Systems Leadership. It offers nurse administrators an in-depth understanding of a health care organization’s finances, human resources, strategic planning, and business management.

Chief Quality Officer Job Description, Salary, and Growth

The daily responsibilities of chief quality officers can vary. They may oversee quality performance initiatives or collaborate with medical staff leaders to create quality improvement programs. Their work can help prevent medical complications in patients, reduce misdiagnoses, improve patients’ experiences, lower costs, improve care coordination, and make health care more patient centered.

Chief quality officers earn a median annual salary of $119,000, according to November 2019 PayScale data. With one to four years of experience, chief quality officers can earn $104,000, while those with 20 or more years can earn upwards of $138,000. While the BLS does not provide specific job-growth data for chief quality officers in health care, it does project an 18.5% increase from 2018-2028 in job growth for the related positions of general and operations managers in health care.

Explore the Benefits of Earning an Online Master of Science in Nursing

Preparing for an advanced nursing role can lead to exciting leadership positions including that a role as chief quality officer. Learn more about  Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program and how its Healthcare Systems Leadership concentration trains graduates to innovate quality initiatives in health care.


Recommended Readings

Leadership in Health Care: Gain Skills to Advance Your Career
5 Leadership Styles for Clinical Nurse Leaders
What Is an MSN Degree at Norwich University?


The Role of Chief Quality Officer, Lippincott Solutions
Average Chief Quality Officer Salary, PayScale
The Importance for Chief Quality Officers in the Healthcare Setting, Becker’s Hospital Review
What Makes an ‘Ideal’ Chief Quality Officer?, Becker’s Hospital Review
Hospital Impact - The Skills That Make or Break a Chief Quality Officer, FierceHealthcare
Master of Science in Nursing, Norwich University
Top Executives, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Employment Projections 11-1021 General and Operations Managers, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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