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INQUIRE: Healthcare Project Planning Simplified

3 min readAlyson Keen, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, Nurse Scientist, Indiana University Health

Nurses and healthcare professionals often face complex challenges that require innovative problem-solving strategies. With the aim of enhancing evidence-based patient care and operational efficiency, the need for a streamlined approach to healthcare project planning and implementation is more critical than ever. Enter the INQUIRE model, a comprehensive navigation tool designed to simplify the project planning process and empower healthcare teams to achieve tangible outcomes.

Empowering Nurses with Effective Problem-Solving Strategies in Healthcare

We are committed to delivering high quality, evidence-based patient care across healthcare. Nurses are uniquely positioned to notice and solve for healthcare problems hindering care delivery. As problems compile, we can easily become overwhelmed and unsure of how to prioritize and where to begin. Additionally, nurses commonly confuse problem solving methods, such as innovation, quality improvement, research, and evidence-based practice. There are currently limited decision-making pathways available for selecting the best problem-solving method. Nurses need an efficient approach that can be consistently applied to achieve optimal patient and organizational outcomes.

Beyond Good Intentions: The Key to Successful Healthcare Project Outcomes

We can waste a lot of time and energy in healthcare trying to solve problems. Despite having a passionate team and defined purpose, we commonly hit roadblocks during implementation and fall short of achieving our project outcomes. Our project teams can become frustrated, burnt out, and inefficiencies can lead to additional cost to organizations. Ultimately, our patients can suffer because we are not efficiently improving outcomes. Take some time to reflect on the questions below.

Have you ever . . .

  • felt stuck trying to solve a healthcare problem?
  • been on a project team that jumped to solutions before understanding the problem?
  • found yourself confused about project methods, such as evidence-based practice and research?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, we have the innovation for you!

Introducing INQUIRE: Your Guide to Healthcare Innovation and Change

A black squiggly line is drawn on a white page. There is a straight beginning, a jumble in the middle, and a straight end that exits with an arrow. On top of the page near the end of the line there is a yellow lightbulb.

INQUIRE (innovation, quality improvement, research, and evidence-based practice) is a navigation model for change and discovery. The model incorporates translation of known solutions, innovation in the absence of a solution, and identification of research targets. INQUIRE guides users through project planning steps based on an identified trigger (problem, challenge, opportunity) to select a method that aligns with the project scope and solution availability.

INQUIRE can be used by clinicians and healthcare leaders as a practical, step-by-step approach for healthcare project navigation. More information about the model and the INQUIRE Toolkit can be found in the resources below. We invite you to experiment with the project worksheet and/or consultation template and tell us how it goes. Together, we can redesign our healthcare environments and the ways that we deliver care more efficiently using INQUIRE.


  • Trigger: What is your problem, opportunity, or challenge initiating the inquiry for change?
  • Confirm/Create Demand: Is there demand in your organization to solve the identified trigger?
  • Study Trigger: What is your current state assessment of the environment?
  • Scan for Solution: What best practice or evidence-based solutions are available?
  • Sufficient Evidence/Established Practice: Is there a known solution available that solves for your trigger?


Keen, A., Radecki, B., Snyderman, W., Rader, T., Hemmelgarn, A., & Sierp, A. (2023). INnovation, QUality Improvement, Research, and Evidence-based practice (INQUIRE): A navigation model for change and discovery. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 39(1): 18-23.


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