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The informed decisions toolbox: tools for knowledge transfer and performance improvement

In recent years, spurred by developments in evidence-informed medicine, a movement to strengthen evidence-informed managerial decision making in healthcare organizations has emerged in the United States and in other countries. The drivers of this movement include demands by payers and consumer groups for improved quality of care, increased operational efficiency, and greater accountability from healthcare organizations. But numerous barriers to managers’ use of evidence in decision making exist, including time pressures, perceived threats to autonomy, preference for colloquial knowledge based on individual experiences, difficulty accessing the relevant evidence base, reliance on external consultants (and others) to determine the quality of the information, and lack of resources. To help managers overcome these barriers, we developed the Informed Decisions Toolbox. It provides tools to help managers efficiently perform the six key steps in the evidence-informed approach to decision making: (1) framing the management question, (2) finding sources of information, (3) assessing the accuracy of the information, (4) assessing the applicability of the information, (5) assessing the actionability of the evidence, and (6) determining if the information is adequate. To build an organizational environment conducive to evidence-informed decision making, we suggest four leadership-driven strategies: (1) recognize and respond to the growing demand for accountability as a strategic issue, (2) establish organizational structures and processes for knowledge transfer, (3) build a questioning organizational culture, and (4) build organizational research capabilities. With organizational support, managers who use the tools presented in the Informed Decisions Toolbox will be able to take control of the decision-making process, will be less reliant on colloquial evidence and consultants, and will be better able to improve the performance of their organizations.

Authors: Rundall TG; Martelli PF; Arroyo L; McCurdy R; Graetz I; Neuwirth EB; Curtis P; Schmittdiel J; Gibson M; Hsu J

J Healthc Manag. 2007 Sep-Oct;52(5):325-41; discussion 341-2.

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