Quality of care, as defined by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is the extent to which health care services provided to patient populations and individuals raise the probability of desired health outcomes. Maintaining quality of care is important to the long-term success of any health care organization. It can serve as an indication that the progress of a health care facility is improving, declining, or stagnating.
Quality of care may also directly affect the health outcome of a patient. Poor quality health care, for instance, can have serious consequences on the life of a patient, such as impairment and long-term disability.
Health care providers striving to improve their quality of care can leverage these strategies:
Set Measurable and Concrete Health Care Goals
Health care facilities should establish goals in key areas that require improvement. They can figure out these areas by analyzing statistics and trends from data sources, such as outcome studies and health records.
When setting goals, medical providers can follow the pillars of quality health care outlined by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Health care, according to the organization, should be:
- Effective – Medical facilities should not overuse or underuse health care techniques. A child suffering from a simple infection in the nose, for instance, should not receive advanced antibiotics.
- Efficient – Health care providers should always take steps to cut down waste.
- Equitable – Medical facilities should deliver high-quality care to individuals regardless of income level, race, gender, and ethnicity.
- Patient-Centric – Health care providers should respect the specific needs and culture of the patient.
- Safe – Medical facilities should avoid delivering care that can injure patients instead of helping them.
- Timely – Health care providers should provide immediate care to patients. A good example is to minimize waiting times.
Implement an Electronic Health Records (EHR) System
EHR is a computer system that assists health care providers in managing patient health records. An EHR platform offers many benefits to health care facilities, including optimized physician workflows, protection against data breaches, and improved accessibility of patient records.
EHR software also improves quality of care for patients. It enables health care professionals to quickly collect patient information using note templates and recall these details as needed. Doctors, for instance, can deliver the necessary quality of care when they can easily access the medical history of a patient.
Follow the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Model
The PDSA cycle is a problem-solving model that health care providers can use to execute a change or improve a particular process. This cycle consists of the following stages:
- Plan – This involves assembling team members with knowledge of the problem or opportunity for improvement, describing the problem, drafting an aim statement, defining the current process, and identifying root causes and alternatives.
- Do – The team executes the action plans in this stage. Additionally, this is where members document results, unanticipated effects, problems, and observations.
- Study – The team uses the aim statement created on the first stage to determine improvements in the plan, trends, and unintended side effects.
- Act – This involves looking back on the team’s plan and outcomes. If the team determines that the plan formulated on the step was a success, the health care provider can standardize that and start to apply it periodically. On the other hand, the team will need to go back to stage one and come up with a different plan if a new approach would yield better or more successful results.
The PDSA model is ideal for testing improvement- or quality-related changes in clinical environments. Health care providers can effectively discern which changes are effective by implementing a plan, noting the results, and acting on the gathered insights.
Form an Effective Team
A good and balanced health care team consists of members hailing from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of skill and experience. Ideally, this team should include the following people:
- A project manager who keeps the team on track and helps each member accomplish the necessary daily tasks
- A clinical specialist who can expertly come up with informed clinical decisions
- An experienced senior leader who can provide oversight and offer reliable advice for each member
Empower the Physicians
Physicians are crucial to the ability of a medical facility to deliver quality of care. According to an Annual Health Care CEO Survey published by Becker’s Hospital Review, a leading hospital magazine, the engagement of physicians is equally important to the initiatives in improving health care quality.
Approximately 90 percent of health system and hospital executives said physician engagement is a promising way to improve performance and patient commitment.
An effective way to achieve this goal is to use a physician relationship management solution, a platform that tracks and creates targeting physician messaging based on various types of data, such as behavioral, demographic, clinic, and psychographic information.
Medical practices, clinics, hospitals, and other health care organizations can improve the quality of care they deliver by taking note of these suggestions. Health care providers that follow these initiatives can improve health outcomes in their facilities, establish long-term relationships with physicians, and effectively acquire and retain patients.