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Tips for Developing a Successful Quality Plan

Model for improvement

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Julie Latreille

I had the pleasure of being the guest speaking at a recent webinar hosted by the Consumer Health and Innovation team at Canada Health Infoway. The webinar focused on how teams, who are part of the e-Connect Impact Challenge, can develop a successful quality plan.

Your first question may be, “What is a quality plan?” A quality plan or a quality improvement plan is a systematic approach to making changes that lead to better patient outcomes, stronger system performance and enhanced professional development. It draws on the combined and continuous efforts of all stakeholders to make better and sustained improvements.

During the webinar, I focused on the top five tips to keep in mind when developing a quality plan.

1. Develop a clear aim statement

Your aim statement should be simple and concise. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? You should follow four main steps while creating your aim statement. Clarity: Create unambiguous measurable results by including a specific number, or percentage, that you would like to reach. Time: Select a date by which you would like to reach this goal. Stretchable: Make a point of realizing where you are now, where you would like to be three to six months, and where you would like to be at the end. Real Value: Create an aim statement that will meet the expectations of your patients or customers.

2. Secure support from leaders

It is important to obtain executive buy-in before implementing your plan. You will not succeed without leader support. These are the people that are giving you funding and making the final decisions about the future or continuation of your program or plan.

3. Choose your measures carefully

One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating their quality plan is not realizing the scope of their plan. I like to use the metaphor of people trying to “boil the ocean.” Take care not to bite-off more than you can chew – to ensure your plan will be successful. This is why properly chosen measures are so important. Take a step back and really look at your process and balance measures – are they attainable? Remember, measures should be part of the solution. The graphic below is the Model for Improvement. Following this guide will allow you to properly assess your measures which will lead to a successful quality plan!

4. Invest time in planning

The best advice I can give is start small and build from there. Put in the time and effort to create a solid plan before testing it. I would even suggest using focus groups and testing your plan on a small number of patients and clinicians. This will highlight potential problems that may have when implementing your plan fully. This gives you the chance to fix problems, or alter your plan, before fully executing it.

5. Involve others in your planning

As mentioned above, it is a great idea to involve others to validate your plan. Test your approach on one or two patients and clinicians and see how it goes and modify or expand from there. It may be good to hold feedback sessions or focus groups to obtain buy-in from patients, staff and leaders. These are the people who can provide input about what is working, what needs to be changed, and other areas of opportunity. Since these people are directly affected, they are the ones to provide the best recommendations.

These five tips are important to keep in mind when writing a quality plan, but they are just the beginning. If you haven’t already, I would advise you to watch the webinar that was conducted earlier this month. It offers a deeper dive into what I have touched on this blog. Good luck on your Quality Plan!

Have a comment about this post? We’d love to hear from you.

jlatirelle 100Julie Latreille

Julie is a specialist in Quality Improvement and works at Health Quality Ontario. She has an interest in integration of health information technology (HIT) to improve quality and patient safety.


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