Developing an Aim Statement | Quality 101 | Quality & Innovation | SHM | Society of Hospital Medicine

Are you looking to get started on a hospital-based quality improvement project? The Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM’s) Quality 101 resources draw from the knowledge and experience of renowned national experts in the field of quality and patient safety. Quality 101 showcases six important points critical to the success of quality improvement in the hospital.

Establishing substantive goals is essential for maintaining focus and motivating the team.

Eventually your aims should be specific, measurable and time-defined and should specify the population or populations for whom you want to improve care. A "stretch" goal should be established that should be aggressive enough to mandate a change in the design of your current process in order to achieve it. Until you have reliable metrics and a baseline evaluation, however, team-supported general aims or goals can be important for galvanizing action and establishing clarity of purpose.

One important task is to define the scope of your efforts. Do you want to focus on just one ward or service? Critical care patients, ward patients, or both? Will you focus on medical patients, surgical patients, or both? SHM encourages a broad view of the scope of your efforts as affecting all inpatients with hyperglycemia, but it may be reasonable to start small and then spread your improvement methods to other areas. On the other hand, even if the scope of your effort includes all patients in your hospital or system, the interventions you choose should be piloted on a small scale when possible. The bottom line is this: think BIG. While you should not take on more than what is achievable, testing and learning on a small scale can make even very large projects more manageable.

Examples of General Aims:

  1. General Aim 1: Reduce adverse drug events in critical care by 75 percent within one year.
  2. General Aim 2: Improve medication reconciliation at transition points by 75 percent within one year.
  3. General Aim 3: Transfer every patient from the inpatient facility to a long-term care facility within 24 hours after the patient is deemed ready to transfer.
  4. General Aim 4: Reduce waiting time to see a urologist by 50 percent within nine months.

As your team develops, your challenge will be to define many of the terms in your general aim, which will entail developing defined metrics and more mature, specific, time-defined aims. For example, what aspects of the process or issue do you want to improve first? What are the factors that lead to lower quality or an unsafe condition? How can you educate caregivers about these issues?

If you need additional support in leading a quality improvement effort, SHM’s signature programs can guide your team through each phase and provide individual mentoring in areas such as care transitions (Project BOOST®), Glycemic Control (GC), Medication Reconciliation (MARQUIS), Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB) and Venous Thromboembolism (VTE). We also provide resources by clinical topic to help you find exactly what you need.

No matter where you are in the spectrum, SHM can assist you in your efforts. SHM encourages you to join the QI community and view the calendar for up to date information on key events and discussions around the quality and innovation movement.

Questions or Comments, please email thecenter@hospitalmedicine.org.