The world of healthcare is modernizing at a swift pace. It was a long time ago when patient-doctor relations or modes of treatment were the only determinants of healthcare standards. Today, healthcare focuses on the physical aspects of a patient’s health and the social and economic environment surrounding them and how it can be used to improve their overall well-being. As a result, healthcare organizations worldwide seek to improve the quality of care they provide.
The static healthcare system has exacerbated healthcare costs, long durations of hospital admissions, and increased frequency of medical errors. Medicine is a dynamic field. It requires frequent systemic changes to ensure that the quality of treatments is upheld. If resources are used efficiently, primary care providers can act as a hub for patient-centered care. Here are seven ways to improve the quality of health care for patients. Let’s take a look:
1. RETRIEVE DATA
Identifying its magnitude is the first and crucial step towards approaching any problem. Before mapping out a plan, you need to collect all of the data from the system. It does not only include patient treatment charts but the allocated resources. In short, you must collect all the numbers, from staff salaries to patient population, during different periods. Collecting data and analyzing it requires administrative skills. People with a medical background often need help with this task. However, you may pursue a master of health administration online to equip yourself with the skill set and knowledge required to perform these tasks and improve healthcare quality and safety. Once you have all the numbers, you can identify the issue and approach it smartly. However, health administrators must also develop skills to interpret and present the data.
2. EVALUATE PATIENT OUTCOMES
Use all the data to evaluate the baseline for patient outcomes. It is often believed that electronic health records (EHRs) make healthcare more patient-centered; in reality, most focus on documentation, better billing, and increasing revenue. To improve healthcare quality, do vigorous tracking of patient wellness, including treatment outcomes and time spent in the hospital. When the quality improves, patient outcomes go up naturally. EHRs, patient satisfaction surveys, and other data resources to monitor patient health are crucial in determining overall wellness outcomes.
3. SET AN EXECUTABLE PLAN AND ASSESS TIMELY
Your next step is to set a concrete, efficient, realistic, and practical plan based on data collection and evaluation findings. These goals should focus on areas in need of improvement. All the goals set must aim for improvement in the six pillars of quality health care: patient safety, access to care, effectiveness of care, patient satisfaction, timeliness of care, and cost-effectiveness.
- Safe: Care provided to patients with the intent of help must not cause any harm to them.
- Effective: Avoid overuse of ineffective care.
- Patient-centred: autonomy of the patient should be respected.
- Timely: Waiting time for both patients and staff to be reduced.
- Efficient: Minimize waste.
- Equitable: Eliminate racial and ethnic gaps in health status.
After goals are established, a plan to have continuous evaluation must be set in place. Improving healthcare is not a one-time event; it is an evolving process. Plan-Do-Study-Act or PDSA cycle is a model used for improving the change process in clinical settings. It is used to test any implemented change and asses its efficiency.
4. BALANCED TEAMWORK
A goal becomes easier to achieve when a determined team works towards it. A successful team should consist of members with diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences. Creating a reliable team is a crucial first step toward improvement. For a healthcare-quality project, the ideal team should include the following positions:
- A senior leader who will oversee if the plan is running smoothly.
- An advisor or a mentor with extensive experience in the field.
- A clinical expert who has the background knowledge to make clinical decisions.
- A project manager must keep the team on track and accomplish day-to-day tasks.
5. IMPROVE PATIENT ENGAGEMENT & COMMUNICATION
There can be no better advocate for a patient’s health than the patients themselves. However, before they can advocate for their rights, they have to be taught by healthcare providers to be proactive customers. Often patients are unaware of their rights and fail to recognize the compromise in their treatment at a hospital or health facility. Lack of communication between physician and patient is a significant cause of low-quality of healthcare and adverse patient outcomes. To increase the transparency of healthcare, communication and engagement are crucial. Primary care providers should think holistically and find effective ways to encourage engagement between families, physicians, insurance providers, and other providers in the patient’s entire healthcare journey. Counseling sessions and frequent follow-ups, sharing information, and facilitating with choice can build a trustworthy relationship and encourage communication with patients.
6. EASILY ACCESSIBLE HEALTHCARE
Subtle determinants of health are often neglected. These determinants include education, income, social position, and the patient’s living environment. According to studies, these long-term factors play a significant role in preventing diseases and promoting patient care. And to improve patient experiences, healthcare must be made accessible to all, regardless of their socioeconomic and racial background. Improving access includes small changes such as; making appointment scheduling quick and easy, user-friendly websites, thank-you and welcome messages to patients, e-prescriptions, and home lab sample collection. A few ways to promote accessible healthcare on a large scale include:
- Expanding insurance to cover healthcare costs.
- Telehealth services extension.
- Transportation services.
- Mobile clinics to minimize geographic barriers.
7. COLLABORATE WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
With the industry growing rapidly, healthcare organizations should keep themselves updated on new advancements in the market. Organizations should keep researching and learning from other administrations to provide the optimum level of care to patients and improve health care quality. Go back to your areas for improvement and compare them with organizations that excel in them. Take notes. Attend conferences, research online, read literature, and look up the latest strategies to stay on top. Get in touch with the organizations you have identified and find out what you can learn from them. Most organizations are happy to share their experiences and what helped them to improve healthcare in their system.
With rising numbers of hospital deaths, reduced life expectancy, and escalating treatment charges, the need to improve healthcare quality is urgent. From the above discussion, we can conclude that improving healthcare quality requires a collective effort that encompasses collaboration, innovation, and compassion. Embracing modern advancements like EHRs can augment healthcare delivery but cannot fulfill the human touch. Even today, patient-doctor interaction, communication, and engagement are the most crucial elements. Primary care providers are best positioned to impact the quality of care. Together, we can create a healthcare landscape that prioritizes patient well-being and ultimately sets new standards for quality care.