The first team meeting is used to decide exactly what it is the team plans to do. This is recorded as an aim statement. The aim statement should be SMART, that is, it should be:
Agreement on the team’s aim or mission will be more easily achieved if team members are provided with relevant information before or at the first meeting, e.g. baseline data about the process being investigated: admission rates, infection rates, length of stay and so on.
A good aim or mission statement identifies a ‘stretch goal’ that is achievable but difficult to achieve (an aspirational target). Teams are advised to avoid drifting from the original aim, but be prepared to re-focus the aim.
Examples of aim (or mission) statements which will ‘stretch’ a team to achieve improvement are:
- Within 12 months, decrease the rate of infections in joint replacement surgery to less than 1%;
- Within 8 months, decrease the number of admissions with a primary diagnosis of asthma by 50%.
Teams must avoid aim statements that suggest the desired solution to the problem, e.g. to implement an appendicectomy protocol into the Division of Paediatrics. At this stage teams should also consider whether they need to change their membership to include other people with knowledge and experience of the problem area. To avoid a team becoming too big, additional members can be co-opted for their expertise as and when needed.
To learn more about developing an aim statement please refer to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement website. The IHI have also developed a webpage with tips for setting aims. You may need to take a moment and register with the IHI for more in-depth information.
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