By Christa Foschio-Bebak

Starting a Quality Improvement (QI) project begins with understanding and clearly identifying what it is you’re trying to improve upon. In other words, what are you trying to accomplish? By answering this question, you and your team come to a shared understanding of your aim statement, or “AIM.”

QI teams sometimes struggle with drafting a clear and concise AIM statement. Remember the following: The AIM statement should be time-specific and measurable. What, by how much, and by when? 

An example of an effective AIM statement from the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality:

  • By June 30, 2016, we will create sustainable strategies to improve asthma prevention across our community. Within our target of 10 public elementary schools in the local county, 30 percent will have staff trained in asthma prevention, 40 percent will have at least one professional who is trained to provide education to students with asthma and their families, and 40 percent will have programs to outreach to parents to increase awareness of the impact of second-hand smoke. 

AIM statements are a reflection of what is known of the problem at the time the QI team is formed, and they can evolve and change once the team better understands the problem they are trying to address. Understanding the current state can be aided by using QI tools such as driver diagrams, process maps and fishbone analysis. 

In order to maintain motivation and ultimately gain momentum in achieving the project AIM, QI teams must take the time to fully understand what really matters. As the Institute for Healthcare Improvement explains, “An effective AIM statement is finding a focus that inspires hearts and minds, provokes action, provides guidance, and sets expectations while avoiding unintended consequences.”  

By investing time and effort in crafting a shared AIM statement in the beginning, teams will be better prepared to successfully move the QI project forward through completion.

Christa Foschio-Bebak, Director of Quality Improvement, leads, facilitates and manages projects that improve quality outcomes and increase direct staff participation in data-driven decision making—helping minimize organizational performance gaps that could hinder funding initiatives. She is adept at working with senior administration in measuring the specific mission of CCNY clients and using data management to implement QI programs that improve service delivery.