Performance Improvement Thoughts – The Start of My Story

May 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

The first step in any improvement initiative, or CME activity as far as that is concerned, is to put some boundaries around what I am going to be dealing with. I need to  identify a problem or need – a “theme” for my effort. The theme for a performance improvement initiative is a concise but not necessarily precise statement of the issue of concern. It is the title of our improvement story. And for my story to be taken seriously it needs to be seen as important by the stakeholders involved in the process I am trying to improve and to key members of upper management in my organization. I want the right people to be interested in the story I am working on.

A theme statement should answer the question, “What are we trying to do here”? An example of a theme might be, “Decrease patient transport time to diagnostic departments”.  Another example might be to “Improve the lipid profile of adults with Type 2 Diabetes.” Another might be to “Improve hand hygiene in the ICU”. If we are working in an improvement effort in our CME operation, our “Theme” might be things like “Reduce errors in accounts payable”. “Reduce the time it takes to get a CME activity approved for CME credit.” “Reduce the time it takes to vet faculty disclosures.” “Increase the return on investment from marketing activities”. “Decrease the dependence on external funding for the overall CME program.”

Notice, we are not quantify our theme statement very precisely. So, in improvement efforts we know generally know where we want to get before we get started. Knowing our general destination keeps us focused on what needs to be done to get us precisely where we want to be when we get there.

In most healthcare settings we don’t have to look far to find potential “themes” for improvement projects.  There is evidence in many places that suggest optimal healthcare is not being delivered to every person every time there is a care encounter. One of our tasks is to identify from this myriad of opportunities ones that are most important to the healthcare providers and systems that comprise the most important target audiences of our organization. We can each identify things in our CME operation that need to be improved.

We want to communicate the “Theme” of our improvement initiatives so everybody involved in the process and key people in management will understand and agree that it is an issue we should be concerned about. Our improvement “Themes” should be made public. We want people to know we are making every effort to solve problems that will have an impact on the quality of what we do.

Themes are important to PI efforts. They begin to set boundaries on our efforts. They communicate our commitment to improving our work and the outcomes we achieve from our work.  “Theme” statements focus on observed problems not suggested solutions. We don’t want to predispose the problem solving effort to a particular solution without an examination of the actual performance that gets us current results and an objective examination of causes why we are not performing at the desired level. Data, not opinion, drive the decision making process.

Think about some “Themes” you would like to work on in your CME setting or in the target audiences you serve in your CME operation. I am sure there are more things than you have time to address. But with a systematic, repeatable, sustainable approach to improvement, in time, you will reap the rewards from your efforts.  You will have many good stories to tell.


Entry filed under: CME, CME Issues, Improvement, PI CME.

Performance Improvement Thoughts PI (CME) Opportunity

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