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Quality improvement in healthcare - A guide

20 November 2020

Tags:

  • Care Providers

Female doctor with pen and paper

Contents:

What is quality in healthcare?

Quality is a word which is used a lot in health and social care, but what does it actually mean, and why is high quality important?

In the UK there isn’t an official definition of quality in healthcare. In England there is the NHS Outcomes Framework, which is a set of values showing the quality of care. The NHS is ‘organising itself around a single definition of quality: care that is effective, safe and provides as positive an experience as possible.’

Taking a consistent approach to improvements in quality is fundamental. Quality improvement approaches are often seen as systematic, with a clear plan of where and how to improve.


Which aspects in healthcare are important to consider?

When it comes to quality, before making any improvement efforts, ask yourself:

  • What is the problem? Does your data show you any trends?
  • Can your patient pathway and other processes be simplified?
  • What is the demand and capacity of your service?
  • How can you drive change through leadership, development of skills and staff and patient engagement?
  • Do you have systems in place to measure the impact of any changes?
  • Do you have a dedicated improvement team, with quality improvement projects ongoing?

The NHS developed a Change Model which consists of 8 areas to be contemplated when bringing about change in healthcare:

  • Leadership by all
  • Spread and adoption
  • Improvement tools
  • Project and performance management
  • Measurement
  • System drivers
  • Motivate and mobilise

The idea is that change brought about with these factors in mind should be sustainable and deliver successful quality improvements for both patients and the public. This includes patient safety, patient outcomes and staff wellbeing.


How can you improve the quality of care in your organisation?

There are numerous ways to work towards improved care in health systems. We cover a few here, and it’s important to bear in mind that digital technology plays a pivotal part.

Data

In order to improve, information needs to be gathered to see the areas which are performing best and worst. When improvement processes are put in place, data can then be used to see the impact. This is carried out over time, as quality can be continuously improved.

For example if you’re measuring the number of falls in a care home, you may find that when measuring the frequency of falls against time, the most falls occur when there are fewer staff on shift. An obvious answer would be to add another member of staff to the relevant time. You would then need to continue to monitor and see if this extra coverage in staff reduces the number of falls. 

If your organisation is still using manual methods for data collection, you probably find that you struggle to spot patterns. When it comes to a CQC inspection, it’s both time consuming and frustrating to dig out all the paperwork and evidence required. If you haven’t considered finding a software which makes it as easy as a click to prepare for a CQC inspection, now could be the time to look. Our software at Radar Healthcare provides you with one centralised place for your quality and compliance improvement.

Engaging your staff

The healthcare professionals in your organisation are at the heart of the care provided. Listen to them! Ensure that they are involved and have their say on how the organisation provides care.

Include all relevant staff, clinical or not, and encourage them to have their say on various aspects:

  • Settings goals
  • Obtaining endorsements from credible places such as the royal colleges
  • Providing evidence that change has been successful, in order to encourage shared learning across the organisation
  • Training of staff, where a culture of openness and continuous quality improvement is encouraged

Your staff likely entered a career in healthcare because they wanted to provide great quality care to service users or patients. Therefore, emphasising cost-cutting measures is less likely to engage them, but improving quality will more likely bring out their passion.

Involve your service users or patients

Whether you’re running a hospital with hundreds of patients in the NHS, or you have a care home with a few service users, it’s always important to gather feedback. It’s these people who are the only ones experiencing your care pathway from start to finish. Encourage the gathering of feedback, both compliments and complaints, from the service users as well as their families in order to gain deeper insight in how you can improve care.

With digital technology, you can record this feedback easily in order to see if there are any trends. It’s also a morale booster to your staff to record all compliments, as this can often be overlooked otherwise.


How Radar Healthcare can help improve your quality of care

Our software at Radar Healthcare allows you to seamlessly transition your processes and procedures into the system. It’s flexible around you and your organisation.

Use Radar as your single centralised place for:

Through these features, we work with healthcare organisations to improve safety, performance and quality of care. See your data in our state-of-the-art analytics where it’s easy to spot trends you may have otherwise missed, without the need for analysts. Book a demo to see what Radar can do to help you improve the quality of care in your organisation.

See how you can improve your quality of care

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