Specify an Aim

Although a desired outcome or general goal for the project was established in the project proposal stage, the improvement team often needs to develop more specific aims that will guide selection of the changes and measurement activities. In order to set specific project aims and brainstorm potential ideas for change, the team should be informed of:

  • Safety concerns related to abbreviation use, such as information from the literature (Literature Summary).
  • The extent of the local problem. In addition to the initial evidence that helped identify the problem, more information may be needed to help understand not just what is happening but why. Team members should help identify additional questions about the local problem that need to be answered before specific project aims can be developed.

A project aim should:24

  • Be clearly stated.
  • Describe measurable goals to work towards that include a time commitment.
  • Represent a stretch goal that will require a fundamental change in the system.
  • Focus on an outcome that is achievable in the short-term but can be refocused when the initiative needs to spread.
  • Be repeated often to remind the team of what they are committed to achieving.

U for Units: Stating an Aim

The improvement team decided that a feasible interim aim for the project that would allow them to test some change strategies before rolling it out to the entire hospital was: “Increase the use of units in ordering medications to 85 per cent of all applicable orders on the target medical and surgical units within six months.”

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U for Units: Stating an Aim

The improvement team recognized that the initiative needed to target both prescribers and transcribers. The team decided that a feasible interim aim for the project that would allow them to test some change strategies was: “Increase the use of units in ordering and transcribing insulin doses to 85 per cent of orders within six months.”

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