It doesn’t matter if you’re a physician working with a small private practice or a registered nurse in a giant hospital system, healthcare organizations of all shapes and sizes are constantly looking for ways that they can enhance the quality of the care that they provide.
Here are six specific improvements that healthcare professionals should keep in mind as they look for ways to develop and upgrade the quality of their products and services.
1. Create a Balanced Team
It’s tempting to quickly jump to flashy improvements, such as new technology or cutting-edge methods and procedures — and those are certainly important. However, you cannot succeed in maintaining a continuous learning and growth mindset within your organization if you don’t have a good foundation in place first.
In the healthcare industry, the most essential piece of a good foundation is employing the right people to work for you. In order to create a well-balanced team of individuals that can work together and continually improve, you want to emphasize:
- Experience: You want your team to have proven, hands-on experience in crucial areas, such as patient care, bedside manner, and the various operational procedures that they provide.
- Skills: Team members should possess both hard and soft skills, such as managing healthcare tech tools, leadership qualities, and interpersonal skills.
- Education: Support the ongoing education and advancement of your team. Providing incentives for staff to attend an accredited nursing school and attain higher levels of education can be a great way to invest in the people that deliver care.
- Safe Staffing: Along with hiring the right candidates, you want to ensure that you have enough people to provide proper care without overextending your team.
While all of the other advice on this list is important, it’s all moot if you don’t go about creating change with a solid, dependable, balanced team already in place.
2. Implement Technology
Technology has quickly become a powerful way to improve the quality of healthcare for many different reasons. For instance, technology can solve many healthcare issues through things like EHR (electronic health record) systems, remote patient monitoring, and cloud-based infrastructure.
Technology doesn’t just free up humans to tend to other tasks, it also often streamlines existing tasks. For instance, telehealth doesn’t just enable healthcare professionals to provide consultations, counseling, and nursing remotely. It also does so quickly, provides better access to treatment, and reduces both exposure and costs for patients.
3. Organize Data and Analyze Patient Outcomes
Once upon a time, ancient physicians like Hippocrates came up with outlandish theories, such as the four humors, to try to bring a sense of normalcy to the medical conditions that they witnessed. In the modern era of medicine, though, such estimations and guesses are largely unnecessary, as they’ve been replaced by greater knowledge, better tech, and the ability to properly gather and process information.
That last one is a critical aspect of improving the quality of your care. Without information, it’s difficult to provide an accurate diagnosis of anything. However, raw data is worthless unless you have the ability to organize and analyze it.
If you truly want to increase the quality of your patient care, it’s important that you establish systems to collect, organize, and analyze medical information across your organization. This shouldn’t simply be focused on patient information and billing. Ensure that you’re tracking your patient’s medical information properly as well, in order to provide timely and effective treatment on a regular basis.
4. Improve Access to Care
While everything on this list is important, the ability to provide access to care is arguably the most essential item of them all. It doesn’t matter what technology you’re using, how good your team is, or how organized your data may be; if your patients can’t access your services, the quality of their healthcare is going to suffer.
Common barriers to quality healthcare include prohibitive cost, a lack of insurance, and unavailability of services and competent care.
With that in mind, it’s also important to recognize that there is a massive, ongoing healthcare staff shortage, so the solution can’t simply be demanding more time and effort from your already overburdened staff. Instead, look for ways to implement technology specifically with better access to care in mind, such as:
- Setting up time-saving, cost-reducing telehealth options.
- Avoiding larger issues by offering preventative care through tests and screenings.
- Establishing effective remote patient monitoring to track patient conditions and symptoms even when they’re off-site.
While technology can increase the quality of healthcare in many ways, streamlining and improving patient access to care is the number one greatest benefit that it provides.
5. Set Goals and Constantly Re-Evaluate Goals
Setting goals is an effective time-management method. It gives your organization focus, momentum, and direction. Whether it’s organizing your data, improving your employee training, setting up better access to care, or anything else, it’s important that you identify your organization’s inefficiencies and then set goals to remedy them.
Ensure that these goals are understood by everyone that they affect on every level of your organization. This will encourage communication and collaboration as you work towards accomplishing them.
Once you’ve set goals, it’s also critical that you regularly revisit them. When you do so you should begin by considering if you met the goal. If you have met a particular goal, you can look for what new goals can be set. If you haven’t met a goal, you can either readjust your approach or adjust the goal itself in order to remain on track and moving forward.
6. Collaborate With Other Healthcare Organizations
It’s an unfortunate fact that healthcare is often driven by bottom-line considerations. However, if you truly want to improve the quality of your patient-facing care, it’s essential that you set aside the profits from time to time and look for ways that you can collaborate with other healthcare organizations in the name of the greater good of all of your patients.
For instance, you can spend time researching other organizations in order to learn from their successes and failures. You can even meet up with another healthcare leader to see if there is a way that your two organizations can share information or otherwise work together in order to better help your patients. This can be mutually beneficial and can go a long way in illuminating and instructing each of your organization’s improvement efforts.
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