A strong healthcare quality management system is the cornerstone to achieving patient satisfaction and initiate positive changes that improve patient satisfaction, increased patient safety and enhanced patient satisfaction levels. It also enables you to ensure that the services you offer meet the highest standards of clinical practice and research. However, it can be challenging to ensure that your efforts are effective. You need to work closely with all your team and provide them with a framework to help them achieve their goals. These four steps can help you build an effective healthcare quality system.
To start with, always have a well-defined overall healthcare quality improvement strategy. You need to know exactly what you want to achieve from within your healthcare system. What are the issues that you want to focus on? Is cost reduction as the top priority? Would you like to introduce more services or change procedures which have been in place for many years?
One of the most important aspects of quality management is patient care records. A systematic approach is required to collect and record accurate data on all aspects of patient care, including diagnosis, treatment, administration of treatments, follow up care and discharge. This involves a number of elements including practice management tools, quality management software and documentation. To facilitate data collection, healthcare organizations will require access to patient demographic information and comprehensive clinical documentation. To enhance the accuracy of outcomes and to minimize conflicts of interest, healthcare teams should work with external consultants who can assist with data collection.
Another important part of data collection and quality management is evidence-based decision support. In order to make informed decisions, healthcare organizations need access to large volumes of information about the effects of different treatment options, care options and procedures on patients. For example, they will require systematic evidence based decision support which identifies both the strengths and weaknesses of individual treatment options and systematically monitors improvements in effectiveness.
Another element of healthcare quality management is standardisation of data collection and quality measurement. Healthcare organizations will need to develop systematic methods of standardisation. Standardisation improves the quality of measurement and results in stronger measurements which are more useful in the long run and cost effective. Standardisation also helps reduce confusion about which measurements are used.
In addition to quality management techniques and tools, good healthcare organisation should also have good management practice models. Practice management systems are designed to improve the management of healthcare institutions. The main objective of a practice management system is to enable healthcare teams to coordinate with each other and with external partners to achieve common aims. Ideally, all healthcare teams should be operating under a single structure that has established regular alignment between its goals, principles and strategies.
Healthcare organizations may wish to consider the role of an independent external board. Such a body can advise them on various issues ranging from the current quality management system in place, to whether the organization has good management practice models and how to improve them, and to what extent they need to change. Such a board can also recommend that healthcare organizations improve their regulatory accreditation status. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) provides accreditation to healthcare organizations based on its stringent quality assessment criteria.
An important consideration in quality management and quality improvement efforts is the engagement of all stakeholders. This includes staff, patients, suppliers, vendors and emergency department staff. Stakeholders need to be included in the process of quality improvement to have their views and opinions acknowledged and to find solutions to problems where they occur. In addition, when potential areas for improvement are identified, it is necessary to define plans to implement those ideas. By involving all stakeholders in the process of improving quality, the chance of finding solutions to potential problems and opportunities for improvement are higher.