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Planning for patient safety: Strategic planning, goals and measurement

Outlining defined goals and metrics through strategic planning prevents medical errors from reaching patients in the prehospital environment


EMS has made significant strides in organizational leadership; but not all leaders have defined and aligned plans to support their efforts.

AP Photo/Marco Garcia

By  The Center for Patient Safety 

Dan was new in his EMS chief position and eager to make a difference for the agency’s patients and his community. He had read about the importance of strategic planning and how it can positively impact an organization, but nothing was in place.

As he learned more about strategic planning, goals and measurement, he realized the powerful impact it would have. He firmly believed that developing and deploying a solid plan would help focus the limited resources, time and energy of everyone in the same direction. These tools would be useful for guiding day-to-day decisions and helping ensure every patient would receive appropriate, safe care.

Without such a plan, the organization lacked the systems and processes to keep errors from reaching their patients. So where does he begin?

Leaders set the tone for patient safety

Good leaders understand the need for aligning the organization’s resources with both short-term and long-term goals to support its mission, vision and values. Leaders provide the support needed through communication and engaging the team, providing both the needed human and capital resources, and removing barriers that stand in the way.

Bringing order to disorder should be the objective

Setting a course for an organization that aligns with its mission, vision and values brings needed order to what would otherwise be described as disorder. Leadership plots the organization’s journey through defined processes that establish goals for the present and the future. The success of an organization depends on the leadership team consistently working with the crews to meet the defined goals utilizing defined metrics. Patient and employee safety culture is a key component.

EMS has made significant strides in organizational leadership; but not all leaders have defined and aligned plans to support their efforts. Those who have established goals which are supported by measurement, allow leaders and their teams to succeed both from a business and safety culture standpoint.

CPS ‘Road to Reliability’ webinar series

As part of its year-long “Road to Reliability” learning series, the Center for Patient Safety is offering a webinar on Feb. 19, 2020, at 1 p.m. CST, “Strategic Planning, Goals and Measurement,” during which attendees will learn how to create and utilize a solid strategic plan. Industry experts will introduce strategic planning and describe its importance to an organization’s long-term and short-term planning processes, including goal setting and measurement.

Learn about practical concepts and tools all leaders can use to align their organization’s day-to-day work, for both the present and the future. This webinar is for EMS leaders and administrators who want to learn essential and practical steps through real examples to move their agency towards a model of high reliability by creating a strategy aligned with their mission, vision and values.

About the speakers:

  • Deborah (Debby) A. Vossenkemper, MBA, RHIA, CPHQ, is a consultant for the Center for Patient Safety. She served as the SSM Health System vice president of patient safety and quality. She was an assistant professor for 10 years at St. Charles Community College in the School of Allied Health and served as a guest lecturer in the Health Information Management program at St. Louis University. Vossenkemper also served with the Excellence in Missouri Foundation, Missouri Quality Award program (MBNQA) for over 13 years in varying roles as an examiner, senior examiner, team leader, judge and the chair of the Panel of Judges. She earned her Bachelor of Health Information degree from St. Louis University and MBA from Fontbonne University.

  • Jennifer Fletcher, RN, MBA, is vice president of patient care services, Air Evac Lifeteam. She brings more than 22 years of healthcare experience to her role at Air Evac EMS, Inc. Before joining Air Evac in 2000 as a flight nurse, she specialized in trauma and critical care nursing. She has more than 13 years of combined management and air medical experience. While at Air Evac, she has worked as a flight nurse, clinical educator, staff development specialist, clinical education manager and director of patient care services. Jennifer obtained a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Missouri - St. Louis, and a master’s degree in business administration from Fontbonne University.

Visit the CPS’s “The Road to High Reliability” for additional information and to register.

[Listen for more: Inside EMS Podcast: How important is developing a culture of safety in EMS?] 

Learn more about creating an EMS culture of safety 

Learn more about creating a safety culture in EMS with these resources: 

The Center for Patient Safety is the expert in EMS patient safety, dedicated to providing timely solutions and resources to improve patient safety and the quality of healthcare delivery. Established in 2005, CPS is an independent, not-for-profit organization that envisions a healthcare environment safe for all patients and healthcare providers, in all process all the time.