PDSA, or Plan-Do-Study-Act, is an iterative, four-stage problem-solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change. The completion of each PDSA cycle leads directly into the start of the next cycle. This allows you to use the knowledge gained to plan the next test. The team continues with this iterative process, refining the change until it is ready for broader implementation. Before implementing each PDSA cycle, work with your team to answer the following questions:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- How will we know that a change is an improvement?
- What changes can we make that will result in an improvement?
The PDSA cycle begins with the Plan phase. This involves identifying setting an aim or identifying a goal, gathering baseline data, selecting an intervention to help achieve that goal, and defining measures of success. This is followed by the Do phase, in which the selected intervention is implemented. In the Study phase, you will: review and analyze the data collected, determine if the test of change resulted in the expected outcome, discuss any implementation lessons from the Do phase, and summarize what was learned which includes identifying unintended consequences, surprises, successes, failures. During the Act phase, reflect on the PDSA cycle and decide if your next step is to: adopt, adjust, or abandon.