The Model for Improvement
The Model for Improvement, developed by Associates in Process Improvement, is a simple yet powerful tool for accelerating improvement. The Model for Improvement has been used successfully by hundreds of healthcare organizations to improve many different healthcare processes and outcomes. The model consists of two parts: addressing three fundamental questions and engaging in tests of change.
- What are we trying to accomplish? The improvement team develops a specific, time-limited and measurable aim statement (setting aims)
- How will we know if a change is an improvement? The team identifies process and outcome measures to collect over time in order to track improvement and evaluate progress (establishing measures)
- What changes can we make that will result in improvement? The team identifies ideas for changes to try (selecting changes to test)
PDSA cycles are used to rapidly test and implement changes in real work settings by planning a change, trying the change, observing the results and acting on what is learned. The PDSA cycle guides the test of a change to determine if the change is an improvement.
The Model for Improvement stresses prediction and measurement as critical features of the PDSA cycle. Teams use PDSA cycles to test changes (initially on a very small scale in order to minimize risk), quickly identify promising ideas, and build confidence that the changes are leading to improvement. Changes that show promise are expanded for testing on larger and larger scales, until the team can be confident that the change should be adopted widely.