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PDSA-X: Increase the Impact of PDSA 

Nicole Radziwill

In the quality community, sometimes it can feel like we’ve been using the same methods since 1911 - when Frederick Taylor first introduced the principles of scientific management. PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) is one of these methods, best suited for individuals or small teams working on small to medium-sized continuous improvements.  

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides a worksheet to help guide PDSA improvement activities. It describes the phases like this: 

  • Plan - What do you plan to do? What results do you hope to see? What are the steps required to carry out this plan? 
  • Do - After implementing the plan, what did you observe? Did everything go well, or did you have to adjust the plan? 
  • Study - Did you meet the targets you identified in the Plan stage? Why or why not? What lessons did you learn about the improvement activity? 
  • Act - What did you conclude? Should you commit to the improvement? If so, educate your workforce and update procedures and work instructions.  


Add a modern twist to PDSA to substantially increase the impact of your improvements: eXport key insights and lessons learned! Share your work in online communities with other EHSQ professionals, publish columns or articles in professional journals, or even just capture your insights on a blog. 

Your experiences are valuable -- and if you export your lessons learned, you’ll help someone in the future who’s going down a similar improvement path. 


Additional Reading: 

AHRQ (n.d.). Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit, 2nd Edition.[Text Wrapping Break]Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Directions and Examples. Available from 

Radziwill, N. M. (2013). Tell Me About It: Export Lessons Learned to Spark Innovation. Quality Progress, 46(10), p. 34. Available from  


Nicole Radziwill is the Quality Practice Lead at Intelex Tecnologies Inc. You can follow her on LinkedIn by clicking HERE.

September 20, 2018 @ 12:48 PM EDT Quality

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