We covered how to determine the Root Cause of a problem here. If you’ve identified the problem, next you need to develop and execute a strong plan of action. The action planning process is key to solving a problem at its root. Strong action plans address process issues.
Why the Action Planning Process is the Root of Successful Change
Often times in the healthcare setting, the root of a problem lies in a broken, out dated, or unclearly communicated process. The plan of attack that provides a strategy to eliminate the possibility of future error recurring is best. We should aim to greatly reduce the rate of recurrence, and a great way to accomplish that is to refine the process at fault.
While it may seem intimidating or feel daunting to think about trying to effect change to a process already in place — especially if a particular individual is connected to the process in question — action planning for process changes doesn’t always need to include personnel issues. Those may be handled through a separate channel, such as via your Human Resources department.
6 Qualities of a Strong Action Plan
A strong action plan will:
1) Address the root cause; the issue that has a clear cause and effect relationship.
2) Be outlined in a step by step approach.
3) Be achievable and reasonable.
4) Identify responsible person to ensure needed steps are completed. (This person should be someone who can have a direct impact on the required action — they need to be in a position to be able to make it happen.)
5) Have specific due dates. (Due dates need to be reasonable, but a deadline to solve the issue is crucial for success.)
6) Be measurable. (Simplifying a process by removing unnecessary steps is a measurable strategy. Reducing variability by standardizing a process is a measurable strategy as well.)
The above qualities serve well as your action items of an action plan. As always, if required, prior to implementing changes, resource allocation must be approved.
Celebrate your successes. Share your stories. You know that there is someone else in your organization who has the same issue, and by working together, positive change is possible. Don’t forget to learn from each other.
Lisa Chadwick, Director of Risk Management | Functional Pathways