Implementing individual actions for patients and families, even if thoughtful and well intentioned, is not enough to ensure an optimal care experience for every patient, every time. An approach that may help your patient and family experience improvement efforts is IHI's Always Events framework.
An Always Event is a clear, action-oriented, and pervasive practice or set of behaviors that provides the following:
• A foundation for partnering with patients and their families;
• Actions that will ensure optimal patient experience and improved outcomes; and
• A unifying force for all that demonstrates an ongoing commitment to person- and family-centered care.
Always Events are aspects of the patient experience that are so important to patients and families that health care providers must perform them consistently for every patient, every time.
IHI created the Always Events Getting Started Kit to help providers at the front lines of care understand what an Always Event is, how to select a set of practices for an Always Event initiative, and the steps for implementing the initiative. The Kit includes two case studies of organizations that have successfully implemented an Always Event initiative, as well as practical guidance for how to implement the four foundational elements of an Always Event: leadership, patient and family partnership, staff engagement, and measurement.
The case study of Anne Arundel Medical Center describes their SMART Discharge Always Event to reduce variation and eliminate the gap in information given to patients and families upon discharge. The team at UnityPoint Health developed the highly successful Always Use Teach Back! initiative. Their case study includes details on development and spread of this Always Event, and how the organization is continuously working to sustain the initiative.
Always Events offer health care providers the opportunity to make improvements in care that really matter to patients and their families. A variety of practices can serve as the focus of an Always Event; what’s important is that the selection is driven by the preferences and needs of those at the center of care: patients and their family members. The first step is to listen to patients and their families. The Getting Started Kit can help teams translate patient desires and preferences into meaningful improvements in care.
Has your organization created and implemented an Always Event initiative? You might be interested in applying for the IHI Always Event Recognition Program™. More details, including the application, are available at www.ihi.org/alwaysevents..