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Conducting SWOT Analysis to Prioritize Improvement ActivitiesUMMC's quality and safety team uses SWOT analysis to identify improvement opportunities.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
1. Define what constitutes a SWOT analysis;
2. Describe how to use a SWOT analysis to assess your practice's challenges and successes;
3. Summarize how to prioritize projects to address identified challenges.
1 Credit

When the University of Mississippi Medical Center's (UMMC) radiology department formed a dedicated quality and safety team in 2014, the group was tasked with uncovering and addressing the department's most pressing quality and safety issues. Quiz Ref IDThe team initiated its improvement efforts with a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis — a process improvement tool for assessing an organization's challenges and successes.

The quality and safety officer leading the team, Cyrillo R. Araujo, MD, associate professor of radiology at the University of Mississippi and director of ultrasound at UMMC, learned about SWOT analyses during a quality improvement training session and knew the department would benefit from the method. “It proved to be a very good mapping process to get real and actionable information about our organization,” Araujo says. (Click here for a downloadable tool: How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis)

Araujo and his team invited people from different departments, including referring clinicians, radiology residents, administrators, faculty, and technologists, to participate in the analysis. The team gathered participants at a local pizzeria to conduct the analysis. “We wanted to hold the meeting in a friendly environment to trigger good interaction between the members of the group,” Araujo explains. Quiz Ref ID“We needed a baseline evaluation involving different perspectives to determine what was going on in radiology — what were our strengths and what were the issues we needed to work on.”

Araujo used a dry erase board to collect the group's feedback while members discussed the four elements of the SWOT analysis. “We emphasized our local environment and also discussed national trends and changes in health care and radiology,” Araujo explains. As a result, the team determined that the radiology department needed to focus on things like the link between quality and safety and things like outcomes and reimbursements, the important role of information technology in radiology to drive sustained change, and the importance of identifying key individuals within radiology to help build a culture of quality and safety.

Quiz Ref IDThe quality and safety team used the information to brainstorm projects that would address the department's weaknesses and threats.Quiz Ref IDIt then conducted a feasibility/impact analysis mapping out, on the one hand, the projects that would have a high clinical impact but require relatively minimal effort to implement and, on the other, the projects that would have a high clinical impact but require a lot of effort to implement. From there, the team prioritized the projects from easiest to most difficult to implement.

Quiz Ref ID“The feasibility/impact grid helped us focus and prioritize tasks that really impacted patient care and quality,” Araujo notes. “As a result, we quickly achieved multiple small wins in the beginning that built up the team's morale to tackle the toughest issues. The process was very beneficial to the quality and safety team's success.”

Read More about UMMC

  • In Teaming Up, learn how radiologists and surgeons formed a collaborative partnership to develop imaging-driven treatment plans for complex cases. The approach has expedited patient care and reduced repeat scans.

  • In Quality Assurance, learn how the radiology department's quality and safety team developed a series of projects to communicate findings more effectively, track follow-up care more closely, and reduce reading room interruptions.

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ACR's Imaging 3.0 case studies series spotlights radiologists who are partnering with clinicians, other medical professionals, and patients to make the transition from a focus on the volume of scans read to the value of care provided. Each case study includes actionable steps that providers can follow to implement similar initiatives at their own institutions. Learn more

  1. Leadership in Health Care

Article Information

This case study by American College of Radiology is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.acr.org/imaging 3. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.acr.org/Legal.

Participation Statement: Upon completion of this activity, learners will receive a Participation Certificate.


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