Starting the Improvement Process in Your Office

Toolkit for Improving Your Office Testing Process

You can begin the improvement process by setting aside some time during a regularly scheduled staff meeting for a discussion of laboratory testing policies and procedures in place in your office. A staff meeting presents a convenient opportunity to engage all staff members in your improvement efforts. Begin by having your staff watch the 10-minute video, which can be found at http://youtu.be/PaZvalKtC-g. Engage your staff in discussion about the video. Ask them to describe the testing process in place at your office and their respective roles in that process. Some discussion topics follow.

Part 1: A Model of the Testing Process

  1. Figure 1 presents an example of the testing process. Using the example as a guide, ask staff members to describe their roles in relation to the tasks in the testing model.
  2. Ask staff to discuss how the tasks within your office's testing process are organized into a system. To stimulate discussion, you might want to create a diagram or model of your office testing process on a whiteboard.
  3. Within your office testing process, can staff identify where errors are likely to occur?

Figure 1. Example of an office testing process

Figure shows an example of an office testing process flowchart, with the process moving left to right, as follows. Test ordered, test performed inside or outside the facility, test results tracked, test results returned to office and clinician, test results reviewed by clinician, test results documented and filed, patient notified of test results, patient monitored thorugh followup.

Part 2: Using the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Method for Practice Improvement

At the first meeting:

  1. Discuss why the entire staff should be involved in all patient safety projects, and describe the PDSA approach to practice improvement (Figure 2).
  2. Have staff describe their work using data and information and their experience with data collection forms.
  3. Ask staff to identify problems or workarounds in the testing process that consume time and effort.
    • Ask staff to identify possible solutions. Be sure to record and keep this information for future meetings.
    • Promise to bring relevant practice improvement tools to the next meeting.

Figure 2. The plan-do-study-act approach to practice improvement

Figure uses a series of circles that flow from one to the other to illustrate the plan-do-study-act method of quality improvement.

At the next meeting:

  1. Review the list of problems and possible solutions.
  2. Work with your staff to clearly define how roles and responsibilities might change and how improvements will be measured. This may be an opportunity to introduce the Planning for Improvements Tool.
  3. Design a change in your testing process that includes simple and quick data collection.
Page last reviewed August 2013
Internet Citation: Starting the Improvement Process in Your Office: 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-toolkit3.html