New initiatives for quality management in healthcare are costly and time-consuming to implement. With large financial investments in upgrading operations and attending to patient care, it is an imperative that the numbers support the efforts. The decision-makers within an organization will be held accountable for mismanagement and patient outcomes. Measurement is a critical component in quality management
As the US healthcare system continues to grow, more patients face the possible challenges and impact of poor quality healthcare and outdated safety practices. At a well-known conference on healthcare quality and patient safety, Dr. Kelly McGrath identified how more patients die annually from hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) than people in auto accidents. This disturbing fact requires immediate insight into how the state of US healthcare needs to change. However, healthcare entities and organizations must take a few moments to understand what quality and safety measures are, how they impact the financial state of healthcare, how clinical analytics can identify key weaknesses in the healthcare system, and how the Centers For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) is taking action to improve quality and patient safety measures..
The proof is in the data. Dr. William Deming brought quality improvement processes to the forefront about 75 years ago. His concepts helped modern businesses tackle ever-changing conditions. According to Deming, “In God we trust…and all others must bring data.” Data will provide the push to move physicians and healthcare organizations into using processes that are quantifiable and offer real value. According to a survey from McKinsey, 84 percent of physicians surveyed were willing to change as long as a reasonable course an argument could be made that change was necessary. Real-time data will guide future improvements for physicians and result in the ability to make vital decisions that impact a healthy bottom line and better patient care.
The implementation of a system of measurement allows clinicians and healthcare organization to better serve patients. According to Science of Improvement: Establishing Measures from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, measurement for learning and process Improvement allows providers to:
Oftentimes, there is so much data that it becomes overwhelming. Pertinent data needs to be given to practitioners at the right time and place. The information needs to answer their questions succinctly. Small-scale tests can allow providers the information necessary to control for biases and correct prior to large-scale implementation. Data for improvement in quality management in healthcare should be derived from outcome measures, process measures and balancing measures.
The quest for quality improvement in healthcare is nothing new. Chester County Hospital and Health System president and CEO H.L. Perry Pepper said:
“The funny part about it is that process improvement has been in healthcare forever and we got away from it. When Pepper began in the 70s, his department “went from department to department with a clipboard and looked at the process. We didn’t have computers, but we were smart enough to know that they were basically industrial engineers.”
Improvements are still made from data from keen observation. With the right data, trends can be identified, better protocols can be implemented and waste can be reduced. Data can help physicians identify and manage diseases collectively in a cohesive joint effort. Some examples from the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care: 2014 Annual Report to Congress include:
Measurements for quality improvement in healthcare have been successful in improving patient outcomes and the in safer delivery of medical care. Consider the possibilities when all physicians make the leap to using data to improve their practice’s ability to deliver the best of medical care.