I’m sure you’ve had that feeling when lying in bed that tomorrow is going to be different; that you’re finally going to be more active or eating better or start on another new and ambitious goal. Basically, it comes down to having a new day and a new focus. This isn’t much different when it comes to the ambitions within a healthcare system to make changes for the betterment of patients and professionals. However, finding the strategies for improving quality in healthcare isn’t as simple as pickup up a book or setting your mind toward something better. Don’t worry, it also isn’t as unattainable as you might have heard from others.
Any sort of improvement project has many sorts of phases and unique challenges that can and often do trip up even the best of us. This can be exacerbated when looking at and dealing with different departments, different people and personalities, sometimes different locations, and different obligations or requirements. This doesn’t mean that you throw your hands up and forget the whole ideal, but you map out what you need, where you want to go and what kind of goals or improvements that you want mastered. As explained in the articled linked above, the top five essentials to finding quality improvement in a healthcare organization starts with leadership.
Malleable People and Environments
Change, especially substantial changes, come from the top down and require some flexibility or compromise on the part of everyone involved. Because not every healthcare organization works the same, it is impossible to expect that the exact framework for an internal system will be sufficient or helpful across the board. You can look to successes and even failures of another organization and learn from them, but implementation of software and adherence to it requires everyone to learn new things, change routines, and make concessions that they may not want to. However, when leaders are on board and able to answer questions, direct people and take things under control, staff is usually more willing to follow.
Analyzing the Data
Finding the root of a problem, or in this case the areas where improvement is needed, may not be as easy as walking around the organization and seeing what is going on. In fact, most inefficiencies are multilayered and require in depth understanding. All facilities are expected to take and store data about patients and organizational practices/purchases for a myriad of reasons. Why not put that data to good use and find out where problematic areas are occurring, inefficiencies are more prevalent and waste is abundant? Data-driven decisions are not based on any biases, personal prejudices or guessing games, but will lead to real change where they are really needed.
Best Decisions Based on Best Practices
Interconnected directly with the analysis of data is to put into practice the discovered information. The evidence provided through analytics will help to provide answers to the problems within and organization. These answers lead to better decisions, better healthcare practices and ultimately to the improvement of quality provided to patients. This doesn’t come about with a couple good decisions or a couple good days of treating patients; in fact, most times this is a goal that is never truly achieved due to the fact that perfection from people and companies is impossible. Don’t throw up your hands and quit because it isn’t doable, but focus on the fact that each step in the improvement process helps to save lives, helps the organization to save money and may help to provide a more streamlined working environment.
Put into Practice
Once problem areas are identified, once a plan of action is made and finalized, and once the data backs up all of the decisions being made, it is time to implement all the strategies for improving quality in healthcare. You are able to answer the question why by pointing to the data. You are able to adapt as the circumstances dictate, and you have everyone on board. Implementation takes a bit of finesse and requires measuring the effect of the changes in the system. Again, because no two organizations and communities are the same, what might work for one may not work for another, and you have to be able to identify when something just isn’t working.
All on the Same Path
Because most medical expenses have to go through one or more reimbursement methods and reportings, it is necessary that payment methods and information being passed back and forth is in accordance with requirements from requesting agencies. No business can thrive without income and there are a great many of expenses that are associated with healthcare, so matching the needs for reporting, and requests for payments is essential to keeping the doors open to any hospital clinic or doctor’s office. It is also fundamental to a healthcare system that waste, clinical variations and gross inefficiencies are rooted out as quickly as possible.
Strategies for improving quality in healthcare are ongoing and quite dynamic in their nature. Nothing is impossible with the right tools, understanding, determination and willingness to implement changes as they are needed and where they are deemed necessary. This is of great benefit for both patient and professional, and will have long-term benefits, especially toward the betterment in outcomes for patients.