Quality improvement in healthcare is the ongoing effort to make the process of caregiving better. Improving quality is making healthcare safe, timely, patient-centered, effective, efficient and equitable. Continuous Quality Improvement in Healthcare is a systematic and deliberate approach towards maintaining the improvement of the quality of healthcare in measurable ways.Considering how unstable the healthcare environment tends to be, only an organization that has a continuous vision and a plan are going to win. Even with rapidly declining reimbursement that makes resource allocation tight, healthcare organizations must sustain a commitment to quality and move forward in building capacity into the organization to provide that quality. Central to any quality improvement methodology is data. Clinicians become more willing to change practice when they see that those changes will make a difference in the outcomes of their patients, and analytics are the mechanism that provides that visibility
With a data warehouse providing a single source of truth and advanced analytic capabilities in place, it’s more likely that healthcare researchers can quickly identify opportunities for improvement, have the data to support decisions, and rapidly implement change. The key to the success of quality improvement teams is the role of a program manager who knows how teams should function as well as how to get things done. Hospital management staff should meet with the program manager weekly so that they can provide support in breaking down any barriers that the program manager’s teams encounter. Once teams have gained experience on a particular project, they can then take the knowledge and skills they have acquired and apply them to other problem areas across the organization. And because continuous quality improvement requires a continuous approach, rather than ignoring projects that appear to be completed, leadership monitors those projects to ensure gains are not lost and intervenes to hold people accountable if performance ever starts to slip.
Another point to note is putting the right data in the right hands. Health organizations need the right data at the right time and in the right hand. It’s a trifecta that must always go together for efficient quality improvement. For example, if you have the right data but at the wrong time, it might be useless. And if the right data is available at the right time but to the wrong person (or department) that data becomes either useless or misused. Having data flow efficiently through the organization is very important for quality improvement to take place.
The purpose of a hospital is to save lives, eliminate patient safety issues, and improve care. Quality improvements lead to quality advances with physician relationships as well as exciting leadership development of physicians across the organization. Additionally, the increase in institutional knowledge and skill related to quality improvement among physicians and staff is an investment that will serve the hospital and even the community well into the future.
Managed Care means managing the process and not the health practitioners. Managed care should focus on managing the process and not manage the health practitioners (i.e doctors, nurses, clinician etc). Understanding this principle is very crucial for quality improvement to be effective. In the past, managed care has been misunderstood as managing and sometimes micro-managing the people instead of the process. This could lead to drastic negative effects. Health practitioners should be included in the process of quality improvement as they understand the system better and are usually the direct recipients of complaints (for feedback purposes) and uses the system every day. They understand it best and should be included in the decision-making process. If the quality improvement approach attempts to manage health practitioners it could lead to a drop in working morale and even worse a worsening of the process and subsequently, quality of healthcare.