Monday, November 14, 2011

Performance Improvement Tip of the Day: A "SMART" PI Project Checklist

In this "list-obsessed" world of ours, its hardly a surprise that one would create a "Checklist for Checklists". In healthcare, the call has gone out from Drs. Peter Pronovost and Atul Gawande to introduce Checklists as "patient safety tools". They are particularly useful when dealing with complex systems, and for reminding personnel of "basic operations" that can't be forgotten. When used properly, Checklists can ensure that necessary aspects of care are delivered, and free up highly trained personnel to think about when to deviate from a Checklist, and focus on higher level decision-making.

As we make our performance improvement teams more results-oriented, the Checklist becomes a useful tool to help keep the projects themselves on track. This helps to remind our project leaders about the steps they need to take in order to ensure that project goals will be met.

The "SMART" PI Project Checklist below - in keeping with our "SMART" theme - helps to provide a relatively simple, easily implementable framework for delivering improvement. In this context, "SMART" reminds us of the following:
  • When designing Goals, Feedback, and Profiles, keep them "SMART" in order to ensure efficiency and minimize the likelihood of resistance or conflict. See prior blogs on each of these topics for more details.
  • The "SMART" PI Project ensures that we:
    • "Specify" ownership of the project.
    • "Monitor" results in an ongoing fashion, and ensure that others in the organization help us with the monitoring.
    • "Analyze" the current system in order to properly develop Goals, identify Barriers, and identify the Critical Processes that need to be undertaken in order to deliver results.
    • "Redesign" the system intelligently building in decision support to ensure reliable outcomes, and enhancing safety mechanisms to catch problems real-time.
    • "Train" ourselves, our staff, and our leaders to deliver better results using proven "behavioral management" techniques of Feedback and Profiling.

While this list can be individualized for the needs of particular institutions, the elements included are generally those that I find essential in delivering results. As you work through the list, you are introducing greater reliability into the system and establishing an increasingly mature culture of improvement.

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