On the second day of the event, facilitators helped the group outline an ideal transition process and helped them form a plan to implement it. Those gathered agreed on a common format for care plans that would travel between sites and a common form for shared documentation.
Ultimately, the appreciative inquiry process led to smoother transitions for patients and patient satisfaction scores improved for psychiatric services.
In addition, there was a better connection and improved communication between the inpatient care providers and outpatient community groups. People who attended the event learned more about services that other groups had available and many who had worked together virtually for years met in person for the first time. Inpatient clinicians began volunteering at a homeless shelter where patients sought help. Community mental health groups hosted educational sessions for inpatient staff and created a listing of community resources.
Once staff has experience with appreciative inquiry, the STEPS Forward module encourages physicians to embed the technique into the practice’s work during events such as daily huddles or staff meetings. Some appreciative inquiry activities include:
- Appreciative check-ins at the start of meetings
- Introductions: Ask people to respond to an appreciative question
- Shout-outs: Ask team members to share something positive that they observed recently about another member’s actions or performance
- Appreciative debriefs: Ask an appreciative question relating to the strengths of a meeting
- “Positive gossip” such as favorable vignettes or inspiring patient quotes
- Assuming positive intent
- Taking a barrier and turning it into an opportunity
- Finding the value behind a complaint
The STEPS Forward module offers more concrete information to help practices learn about the appreciative inquiry process and outlines how they can apply it to their health care setting. The module takes doctors through the five steps to build and maintain a positive organizational culture and answers frequently asked questions about the approach.
The STEPS Forward module may be completed for continuing medical education credit. There are seven new modules now available from the AMA’s STEPS Forward collection, bringing the total number of practice improvement strategies to 43; several thanks to a grant from, and collaboration with, the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative.