Designing Consumer Reporting Systems for Patient Safety Events

Chapter 2. Conceptual Framework and Design

Frequently, new systems are created based solely on existing systems and the problems and advantages that are associated with them. This approach prematurely narrows the focus of options so that system solutions that could be substantially more effective and efficient are never considered. In an attempt to bypass the self-imposed restrictions of basing a design on existing systems, the project design is based on Nadler's "Ideal Design of Effective and Logical Systems" (IDEALS) design concept (Nadler, 1967).

The IDEALS concept is intended to result in recommendations for achieving, as closely as possible, an optimal system. According to the IDEALS concept, a recommended system evolves through three stages:

  1. A theoretical system capturing a vision of what an ideal system would be (even if it is realistically unobtainable).
  2. An ultimate ideal system that is built on the theoretical ideal system, but contains achievable operational and practical goals.
  3. A technologically workable ideal system (TWIS).

The result of this process is a recommended system that is specified in terms of currently available technologies and components, while meeting the specifications of the prior steps of the process (theoretical ideal, ultimate ideal, and technologically workable systems). 

Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created September 2012
Internet Citation: Chapter 2. Conceptual Framework and Design. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.