Project Management Tool Selection and Project Management Plan

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Project management has always been perceived as a subject to learn by business executives or healthcare leaders; however, the current conditions enable nursing practitioners to obtain the related knowledge. Professionals today can not only notice the problems that disrupt patient outcomes and decrease the quality of services but also develop and implement strategies to achieve positive change (Rew et al., 2020). In my practicum site, the problem of the impoverished population skipping their follow-up appointments has recently been identified by my preceptor, providing me with the opportunity to build a workable strategy for resolving it. Project management tools are essential for efficient planning and execution; thus, different types must be reviewed before actual planning (Sipes, 2020). Multiple participants are necessary to influence the patients’ behavior, and aspects such as the results assessment and alternative approaches must be considered. This paper aims to explore the project management tools appropriate for addressing the problem of impoverished beneficiaries skipping the follow-up visits and plan the practice change with the outlined objectives.

The quality of healthcare services depends on the providers’ skillfulness and the efficiency range with which their work is organized. Indeed, various project management tools can be identified in the nursing practitioners’ schedules, protocols, and problem-solving approaches. The basic structure to make change includes the stages of design, plan, implementation, regulation, evaluation, and conclusion (Sipes, 2020). Most project management tools are tied to the first four steps, and the correct selection of instruments influences the success of the last two. Indeed, the quality of healthcare services is bound to the cost and time efficiency of the activities performed by team members and the leadership approaches used (Hickey & Giardino, 2021). The classical management tools are the Gantt chart, work breakdown structure (WBS), project baseline, team building activities, and communication plan (Sipes, 2020). These tactics are proven to be effective in the nursing practice, and one strategy can include several of the approaches simultaneously.

The selection of project management tools depends on the identified problem, the number of participants, and the time required to achieve results. Indeed, the Gantt chart is applicable when the activities are tied to specific dates and team members as it allows to visualize the entire process in a timeline-based classification of the tasks (Sipes, 2020). WBS is a profound management tool that displays a detailed list and explanation of the steps and actions necessary to be taken for successful completion (Sipes, 2020). Team building activities such as open discussions, training, and solutions presentations are essential to be included in a project if diverse participants work together for the first time (White et al., 2021). A communication plan is the management tool where the strategies for reporting and delivering the information are discussed and established for efficient problem-solving and execution. Lastly, the project baseline is the graphical representation of the primary results and the strategies to achieve them displayed in a manner convenient to track.

The issue of the impoverished beneficiaries skipping the follow-up visits is significant because patients’ behavior negatively influences the quality of treatment and increases the risk of their health conditions worsening. Multiple factors force the identified population representatives to miss their appointments, such as employment and family obligations, costly transportation, and long clinic wait times prevent impoverished populations’ representatives from re-attending a hospital (Ofei-Dodoo et al., 2019). Consequently, the project to influence their behavior must address the reasons for their decision-making, and that goal can be achieved through updates in doctors’, nurses’, and administrators’ actions. Indeed, physicians can improve patient education through teaching how crucial it is to attend the appointment; administration can develop reminder practices (Ofei-Dodoo et al., 2019). Nursing practitioners can also adjust their communication to tailor the importance of follow-up visits and ensure that the client understands. Diverse activities are necessary to be performed by several practitioners simultaneously to achieve sustainable results, and that crucial factor must be considered in project development and management.

Based on the identified problem of skipped follow-ups by the impoverished population and the need for diversified intervention, the appropriate project management tool to apply is the WBS. Sipes (2020) stated that the instrument is “developed to show the detail of work and specific tasks needed to be completed before the project can be considered ready to implement” (p. 85). WBS will help identify what is required from each participant and describe the activities they must perform to decrease the number of skipped follow-up appointments. Before using the project management tools, SMART objectives must be outlined to specify the tasks, assess if they are realistic, set deadlines, and the change measurements (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, n. d.). For instance, to influence the impoverished beneficiaries’ follow-up visits, a nursing practitioner needs to identify the patients to work with. Then, the strategy is to educate them about the costs of skipped appointments, notify them about the upcoming meeting, and perform the intervention for at least three months to track the results.

Similar SMART objectives should be applied to the activities of practitioners, administrators, and executives involved in the project and reflected on the WBS scheme as steps to make the operations look manageable. The strategic plan below is based on how the problem of skipped follow-up visits can be solved through the changes in the participants’ practice.

  1. Design stage: develop SMART objectives, charts, research the problem, select the intervention scope and participants (Sipes, 2020). Tasks must be performed by the executives and initiators, such as preceptors and quality improvement team representatives.
  2. Plan stage: conduct meetings, develop the action plan, identify the time frame, evaluation criteria, and the project management team. The leaders and participants can complete the activities, and the WBS scheme would reflect who is responsible for which part.
  3. Execute stage: based on the SMART objectives, interventions for each participant should be broken into specific tasks such as performing patient education, making a follow-up call, or gathering clients’ feedback about the quality of the services (White et al., 2021). The project management has no strict timeframe; thus, the accent on tasks must be made. Control events such as performance checks must be assigned to the team leaders.
  4. Evaluation and completion stage: the WBS scheme should identify the assessment tasks each participant must perform to gather the information necessary to conclude. Meetings initiated by the executives require formal finishing procedures and lessons evaluation.

Project management tools help develop and execute interventions that can result in positive patient outcomes and practice change. Nursing professionals can use classical instruments such as the Gantt chart, WBS, baseline, team building activities, and communication planning to achieve sustainable results. The problem of the impoverished beneficiaries not attending their follow-up visits requires project management strategies to be applied for identifying necessary steps for each participant. The combination of SMART objectives and WBS development was selected to outline the intervention because diverse activities must be simultaneously performed to influence the patients’ behavior.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n. d.). Develop SMART objectives. Web.

Hickey, J. V., & Giardino, E. R. (Eds.). (2021). Evaluation of quality in health care for DNPs (3rd ed.). Springer Publishing.

Ofei-Dodoo, S., Kellerman, R., Hartpence, C., Mills, K., & Manlove, E. (2019). Why patients miss scheduled outpatient appointments at urban academic residency clinics: A qualitative evaluation. Kansas Journal of Medicine, 12(3), 57. Web.

Rew, L., Cauvin, S., Cengiz, A., Pretorius, K., & Johnson, K. (2020). Application of project management tools and techniques to support nursing intervention research. Nursing Outlook, 68(4), 396-405. Web.

Sipes, C. (2020). Project management for the advanced practice nurse (2nd ed.). Springer Publishing Company.

White, K. M., Dudley-Brown, S., & Terhaar, M. F. (Eds.). (2021). Translation of evidence into nursing and healthcare (3rd ed.). Springer Publishing Company.

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