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Developing your NHS project Aims Statement 

 March 31, 2022

By  Dave Litten

Developing your NHS project Aims Statement

Your objective at this stage is to scope the problem that you wish to solve and support the improvement activity
An aims statement is a written document of what you want to achieve from your improvement project and a timeframe for achieving it.

Developing Your Nhs Project Aims Statement

When to use your Aims Statement

The aims statement helps you identify and articulate clear, focused goals with clinical leadership
These goals focus on problems that cause concern as well as benefits for patients and staff
Your aims must be specific and measurable and should link up to the strategic aims of your organization

How to use it

Include clear and measurable targets. Develop a numerical goal that is time-specific and measurable
Targets should define the patient population that will be affected, e.g. improve critical care outcomes by reducing healthcare-associated infections rates by 5% (from 8% to 3%) within one year

Developing Your Nhs Project Aims Statement

Specify the Aims Statement scope

The aims statement should define the scope of your project – the patient population and whether you are making the improvement across your team, department or organization. Beware of scope creep by only stating ‘Reduce healthcare-associated infection rates by 5%’

Include the stakeholders in developing your aims

This helps share and engage the aim with the people in your improvement project. Link your aim to benefits for patients/service users and staff
Think about what the benefits of the project are going to be for stakeholders – both those affected by the project and those who you want to work with you to make improvements to your service
Everything we do should be able to be linked to patient outcomes in some way

Don’t include solutions in your aims statement

Avoid the temptation of jumping to conclusions about what changes you need to make. Take the time to understand what’s really happening in your system/processes before identifying potential changes

Link your improvement project aims to strategic objectives

Aims should be consistent with national NHS goals. Linking aims to organizational strategic objectives increases the chances of your project being successful

Developing Your Nhs Project Aims Statement

Be prepared to modify the aim

It can be useful to refocus the project aim, i.e. deciding to work on a smaller part of the system as part of the overall project strategy. Refocusing to work on a smaller part of the system is often a good tactic, e.g. reducing hospital-associated infection rates in critical care cardiac patients by X% (from y% to z%)
This may help the team learn more about what’s happening within the system and help build confidence in their solutions so helping them achieve the desired overall goal

Developing Your Nhs Project Aims Statement

What’s your elevator pitch?

What would say to someone, a senior manager, patient, or colleague in an elevator between floors to engage them with your improvement project? How will you pitch your aim to enthuse and engage such people to get involved with your project? Be realistic about what you hope to achieve – yet set ambitious targets and inspire those around you to achieve exceptional results

A SMART aim is:

After developing your aims statement, make sure it is SMART
Measurable. – has a numerical target that can be measured
Achievable. – is realistic and attainable in the time allowed
Relevant. – is linked to the strategic aims of your organization and relates to patient outcomes
Time-bound. (sometimes referred to as timely, time-sensitive, time-based) – has a clearly defined timeframe within which the aim should be achieved

Developing Your Nhs Project Aims Statement

Link your project’s aim to the organization’s objectives

Linking your project aims to your organization’s aims is a key strategy for ensuring a successful project
Using the four-column matrix (see below) can help you do this
This allows you to multiply the benefits from a single project across the whole organization. You may need data from your information team and accounts department, as this approach has a strong focus on numbers
Senior leadership and clinical buy-in is vital for health service improvement. Being able to sell what you are doing and describe potential outcomes – for example, improved clinical outcomes – will help achieve this

Four columns should be used at the start of your project once you have established your aims.

The four-column matrix

Developing Your Nhs Project Aims Statement

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David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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