How can I tell if my quality improvement plan is working?

As healthcare professionals, we continuously strive to make improvements in our service provision and patient care. One of the ways to achieve this is by implementing a Quality Improvement (QI) plan, often utilising the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) model.

However – just as embedded in the PDSA model itself – having a plan in place is not enough. It is crucial to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the plan to ensure that it is indeed improving the quality of patient care. Here are some tips for understanding if your QI plan is working and ideas on how patient feedback can assist in this evaluation process.

  • Step 1: Establish measurable goals and objectives
  • Step 2: Collect qualitative and quantitative data
  • Step 3: Analyse data and identify trends
  • Step 4: Implement changes and initiatives
  • Step 5: The continuous improvement journey

Step 1: Establish measurable goals and objectives The first step in evaluating the effectiveness of your QI plan is to ensure you have a clear benchmark to evaluate your progress. Establish goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). For instance, if your QI plan aims to reduce the wait time for patients, a SMART goal could be to decrease the average wait time from 30 minutes to 25 minutes within four months. Step 2: Collect qualitative and quantitative data Collecting and tracking data is crucial in evaluating the effectiveness of your QI plan. Feedback can be collected in a variety of ways, such as through surveys, focus groups or one-on-one interviews. The data collected can be both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data can include metrics such as patient wait times, readmission rates and patient feedback scores. Qualitative data can include patient experience stories and staff feedback. Step 3: Analyse data and identify trends After collecting data, it is essential to analyse it and identify any trends or patterns. For instance, in a hospital setting, if the patient wait time has decreased but the readmission rate has increased, it may indicate that patients are being rushed out of the hospital, leading to poorer quality care. Analysing data can help identify areas that need improvement and inform any necessary changes to the QI plan. Step 4: Implement changes and initiatives It’s time to implement changes you’ve identified as part of your improvement initiatives based on feedback and analysis. It is important to communicate these changes to your staff and patients to ensure everyone is aware of the improvements being made. It may also be helpful to set new goals based on the feedback and analysis to continue to track progress and maintain a focus on continuous improvement. Step 5: The continuous improvement journey Evaluating the effectiveness of your QI plan is an ongoing process. Continuous evaluation and improvement are necessary to ensure that the plan remains effective and that patient care continues to improve. As you identify areas for improvement, make changes to the plan and continue to track progress and collect feedback.

Most healthcare professionals understand the need to evaluate the effectiveness of their improvement initiatives and QI plans. By following these steps, you can establish clear goals, collect and analyse data, identify and implement changes and track progress to continuously improve the level of care to your patients. Using a Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMs) tool as part of this process will help you to make informed decisions about how to improve your care and service.

Active Insights by CFEP Surveys has been designed specifically for the Australian health and care sectors to help simplify and speed up the process of collecting, collating and analysing patient experience data. Watch this short video to find out more about CFEP Surveys Active Insights real-time patient feedback tool.

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