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  • AJ Jordan

Ensuring Change Leads to Improvement


All improvement requires change, but not all change leads to improvement. How can you know for sure that your change efforts will create positive outcomes?

People and organizations go through “improvement cycles” every day. Anytime we attempt something new, refine a skill, or test an idea, we conduct mental improvement cycles. The value of a structured improvement tool is that, when utilized correctly, it can be used by employees and teams to create better systems and processes, and accelerate organizational learning.

Most improvement cycles have three to five parts, but they are all based on similar concepts, and are fairly easy to learn. Two of the easiest and most intuitive models are:

  • Plan-Do-Study/Check-Act (PDSA/PDCA) – a four-part model for testing changes. Planning focuses on identifying key outcomes and forming hypotheses. Doing is the actual completion of the test. Studying (or checking) reviews the data and results, and acting speaks to modification and planning new tests based on what was learned. Then the cycle begins over.

  • Assess-Plan-Execute – This is MedMan’s improvement cycle, which focuses on constant learning through assessing the current situation, planning targeted improvement efforts, executing the defined changes, and then re-assessing and adjusting accordingly.

Before testing any change, though, you and your team must be able to answer these key questions from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Model for Improvement:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?

  • How will we know a change is an improvement?

  • What change can we make that will result in improvement?

If you want a simple template to get your team started, follow this link.

Have questions on quality improvement models? Please e-mail us and we’ll be happy to assist.