Using the Toolkit

Toolkit for Improving Your Office Testing Process

Every office is unique. No two offices are alike, and offices can change over time, so no single system for managing the testing process will work in every office. This toolkit will support you in the development and implementation of projects you design to improve how your office manages the testing process.

Choosing a leader for the project. We understand that the job titles of those leading a project can vary widely, so we will use the generic title of "Project Leader" throughout this toolkit user guide. The project leader can be a physician, a nurse, an administrator, or anyone else who has the skills and the desire to lead the project.

The toolkit user guide is meant primarily for project leaders. The toolkit contains more information and resources than would be needed for any one project. It is the project leader's role to identify which tools are relevant for a project and to understand how to use them.

A video is available. The support of your staff is crucial to the success of the project. The 10-minute video "Testing, Testing, Testing" is available (http://youtu.be/PaZvalKtC-g ) to introduce the testing process and quality improvement to your staff. It can provide a jumping-off point for staff discussion and action.

This toolkit presents a simple model of the testing process. Although the eight tasks discussed in this toolkit are common to all offices, your office may not perform the tasks in the order described in the model.

The testing process is an office system. A good office system facilitates communication and coordination between people and tasks. It is documented with clear and well-understood policies and procedures. Office systems should not depend on the knowledge or efforts of any one individual. This toolkit will help you focus on your office system rather than on the performance of individual staff members.

Keep your project modest and manageable. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a busy office environment. Even a small change can take a lot of effort, but it also can make a big difference.

Photo depicts a female medical office worker.

You don't have to use all the tools in the toolkit. These tools were designed for specific purposes. Some of the tools can help you identify error-prone aspects of your testing process, and others can help you measure your progress in improving the process. Choose the tool(s) you think will be most useful to help you achieve your goals.

Involve your entire staff in patient safety and quality improvement. Each tool has a "What we know about" section, with themes for staff discussion and project development.

Detailed descriptions and instructions accompany each tool. The tools can be used in a variety of ways. An outline of these uses is provided in the detailed description of each tool.

The tools can be adapted for your office and your project. Because each office is unique, it is okay to modify a tool to meet your needs.

Measure your performance before and after implementing a change. Measurement is essential for determining whether the change in your office system actually improves the reliability of your testing process.

Use the same tool to measure your performance before and after implementing a change. Use the same tool and the same method each time you collect information (e.g., how charts were selected to audit; how patients were selected to survey). Consistent data collection will allow an accurate before and after comparison and enable you to determine if the changes you have made are producing improvements.

Stay positive. Recognizing a problem is a valuable step; it may take several attempts to put a workable solution into place in your office.

No matter how small, celebrate your successes!

Page last reviewed August 2013
Internet Citation: Using the Toolkit: Toolkit for Improving Your Office Testing Process. August 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/office-testing-toolkit/officetesting-toolkit2.html