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Written by: Bob Habasevich, PT on Friday, January 25, 2013 Posted in: Inpatient Rehab

Goal setting is an essential part of any rehabilitation program and is used to define what outcomes are to be achieved and how to organize time and resources to make the very most of your rehabilitation program. We have known this to be true for patient care and program development. As the health care costs and payment stress the status quo and how we work, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our efforts requires the diligence and discipline of performance improvement methods that are foreign to most clinical settings.

Improving rehab care means reducing its costs, and as with most debates in healthcare there exists a paucity of data to support opinions and policy.

By targeting precisely what is to be achieved, management and staff can then develop a plan outlining where to concentrate efforts and how to eliminate or reduce any variance that would otherwise move you off course. Improvement goals can be incredibly motivating. Goals inspire self-confidence when achieved, especially when short-term achievements are linked to longer term goals and the ‘big picture’.

Performance improvement goal setting must avoid the wish list approach and apply current management science to plan, guide and quantify effects of change. Establishing performance improvement goals and planning for success can be guided by use of the SMART mnemonic, SMART is an acronym for:
Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Timed

1. Specific –a concise statement of the goal that tells what needs to be accomplished and when – the specific results or outcomes expected.

2. Measurable –the measurements to be used to determine that the results or outcomes expected have been achieved. Measurements are not necessarily quantitative.

3. Attainable – results or outcomes must be within the authority, skill, and knowledge level of the employees, and the resources needed to achieve the goal must be available to the employee.

4. Relevant – The expected results or outcomes should support the department’s and/or the provider’s mission and plan; and/or the results or outcomes should contribute to the department’s needs or the employee’s personal development.

5. Time framed – Deadlines for achieving expected results and outcomes should be set, not left open-ended. Deadlines can be extended when circumstances warrant, but should be re-set and monitored.

As with patient care starting with the end in sight is the logical approach to identifying performance improvement objectives.  Frequent review and modification to plans will provide necessary feedback to reinforce the behavioral changes targeted for success.

In summary, it is useful to remember the mnemonic SMART when performance goals are being planned. This seems so very logical; its use in patient care may have some applicability. What do you think?