Part 5: Developing and Writing Effective Aim Statement
An aim statement is a written and measurable description of your organization’s desired improvement. It targets a specific patient population and describes the amount of time needed to achieve the aim. The purpose of an aim statement is to provide QI teams with clear, well defined goals. It provides a sense of direction and allows your QI team to identify the steps that should be taken to meet the end goal. Organizations are more likely to successfully improve quality when they establish effective aim statements.
Aim statement examples from Healthcare Communities:
Starlight Health Center (Word - 56KB) will redesign its care delivery model for our patients with diabetes. We will accomplish this through recognition that changes are required to improve care. We will also demonstrate a commitment to our patients’ health through addressing the six components of the Chronic Care Model and utilization of clinical best practices. We expect our process measures to show improvement within 3 months (by April 2006) and outcome measures to show improvement within six months (by August 2006). We will know we have achieved improvement by monitoring the following measures within our population of focus:
In order to set successful aim statements, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement suggests that organizations state clear aims; include numerical goals; avoid aim drift; and refocus their aims when necessary. Establishing an approach to develop aim statements may be difficult. However, the Committee on the Quality of Health Care in America established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) proposes six aims that your QI team can use to form aim statements specific to your organization. These six aims propose that health care be STEEEP:
If QI teams consider these overarching aims, they increase their chances of making improvements that will significantly impact patient care. Your QI team may also consider using data-driven benchmarks to set target goals for their aims. By doing this, QI teams set realistic performance goals for your organization. As national benchmarks change over time, the QI team can refocus aims.
Once QI teams decide on an aim, they can begin to think about measures that will determine if a change in process actually leads to improvement. Measurement also helps to assess performance and identify areas in the workflow in need of improvement. Next, the team should brainstorm ways to alter workflow and other system processes for quality improvement. Once your QI team selects a few worthy process change ideas, they should begin testing the changes on a small scale using the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) describes steps of a successful PSDA Cycle:
Step 1: Plan
Plan the test or observation, including a plan for collecting data.
Step 2: Do
Try out the test on a small scale.
Step 3: Study
Set aside time to analyze the data and study the results.
Step 4: Act
Refine the change, based on what was learned from the test.
Results from the PDSA cycle will help the team identify process changes that should be implemented in the live environment. Results will also help your QI team project costs and the potential impacts of the changes.
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