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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
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Readiness Assessment & Developing Project Aims

The goals of this module are to define readiness assessment and its purpose in an organization’s overarching quality improvement (QI) program. The module drills down to provide details of readiness assessment methods and characteristics when an organization prepares to embark on a new QI project under the broader umbrella of the QI program. The module also walks through the next steps after an organization completes its readiness assessment and is prepared to initiate a QI project, which involves development of its project aim statement. The following is a topical list of the module's content:

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Key Characteristics of Readiness

Part 3: Assessing Organizational Culture for Change

Part 4: Tools to Support Readiness Assessment

Part 5: Developing and Writing Effective Aim Statement

Part 6: Tools to Support the Development of Aim Statements

Part 7: Related Resources

Part 1: Introduction

Health care quality plays an important role in your organization’s patient outcomes and safety efforts.  A strong organizational commitment and major changes in workflow are needed to successfully improve quality.  It is important to assess your organization’s readiness for change before taking any major steps to improve quality.  A readiness assessment will help determine if your organization’s existing environment is prepared for change.  It will also predict how change may impact staff and clinical performance.  By conducting a readiness assessment, organizations can identify their needs and major gaps in workflow.  Results from a readiness assessment will also help shape your organization’s approach to various QI initiatives.  

QI projects can benefit from having a statement of aims.  An aim statement is a description of a measurable goal of a QI project.  It specifies a patient population and targets a specific timeframe.  Without clear aims, organizations have no sense of direction to enhance quality of care.  The contents of this module describe readiness assessment and how to develop project aims.

What is Readiness Assessment?

Readiness assessment is the act of measuring how prepared your organization is for a major change.  In order to conduct a thorough readiness assessment, you need to evaluate the culture; leadership styles; performance; processes; and, resources of your organization.  As a result of readiness assessment, you can identify organizational needs and develop a plan to introduce QI goals to staff.

Readiness assessment consists of organizational QI program readiness and QI project readiness.  Organizational QI program readiness is a precursor of quality improvement.  Organizational QI program readiness is achieved when your organization is prepared for change and willing to alter current practices for quality improvement.  An organizational readiness assessment will help determine if your organization is capable of successfully implementing change. The assessment will identify available resources, staff characteristics, and areas that your organization needs to improve.  As a result of the assessment, your organization can prepare for any barriers that would otherwise hinder QI projects. An organizational readiness assessment will also help identify organizational strengths that can be used to support the QI program. 

Every QI project needs a project team to manage the project.  Team members should be selected based on the QI project and the types of expertise needed.  Given the importance of the QI team, your organization should also conduct a QI project readiness assessment.  It involves evaluation of the QI team’s readiness for change, commitment and leadership support.  This assessment will reveal gaps and help your organization form better teams for QI projects.  It will also help measure your organization’s resource and data collection needs.

What is the purpose of Readiness Assessment?

The purpose of readiness assessment is to help your organization prevent obstacles that would otherwise delay QI initiatives.  By identifying barriers, your organization can address issues before they escalate to major problems; therefore, saving time and increasing the likelihood of successfully improving quality.  It is important for your organization to engage with staff during the assessment period. Engagement will strengthen employee relations and demonstrate that your organization cares about how major changes will affect staff members. Moreover, results from the readiness assessment may encourage your organization to alter its QI planning efforts for more satisfying outcomes.  The primary goal of readiness assessment is to help your organization achieve its QI aims without any sudden surprises that could potentially bring your initiatives to a standstill.

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