Quality in healthcare is as imperative as it might be in any other facet of our lives, rather more! When someone takes our suggestion on the quality of a certain object, we instantly answer on the basis of efficiency and of our experience with the object in question. In short, we explicitly focus on how well it met with our requirements as well as with how much ease. This general perception of quality doesn’t differ much when it comes to enunciating the quality of a healthcare delivery system.
Let’s take hospitals as an example, since hospitals play a chief role in the provision of curative, preventive, rehabilitative and palliative healthcare to the population. For that reason, hospitals need to buckle up and be at the top of their game always because not only do hospitals play a vital role in social and healthy wellbeing of the communities but also in the economic development. For hospitals, it is the patient safety and patient experience that aids in determining the quality of these complex institutions. Eventually, the various tools and quality indicators lead to the key parameter for judging the quality of a system; “patient satisfaction“, which is paramount to the healthcare organizations as well as the caregivers.
Understandably, the main purpose of hospitals is to continually reduce the burden of illness, injury, disability and to ameliorate the mental and physical impairments of the people. The befuddling question that arises with a not so fuddling answer is; how do we achieve the persistent remedying of the aforesaid afflictions of the community? The answer being, by continuous quality improvement.
As simple as it may sound, it requires unwavering rigor and diligence by not only the patient centric staff but also the management centric staff of the hospital. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 100,000 people die annually in hospitals due to medical negligence. Amongst them, 80,000 die from hospital-acquired infections. One out of every 370 people admitted to a hospital dies due to medical negligence that could have been prevented. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the quality of services given to the patients, hold utmost importance in their wellbeing.
Continuous quality improvement builds stable healthcare systems
With the futuristic high-tech era that we’re entering in, healthcare structures are becoming complicated too. This raises a need for fresh, enhanced methods along with access to the advanced technology, that’d be efficient and cost effective for the patients as well as the healthcare organizations. A lot of healthcare professionals from the developing countries like ours debate that it is toilsome to provide the quality healthcare due to lack of superlative technology and highly proficient personnel. However, that sounds quite absurd to a healthcare professional like me. It is because I believe that our country has so much more potential and caliber that we can build a sturdy healthcare system, by appropriately utilizing what we already have which will eventually lead to the development of our nation. And simultaneously we can keep incorporating the premier technology as well as the specialists without putting a halt in the construction of a quality healthcare delivery system. First and foremost, the order of the day should be continuous quality improvement. This entails; access, assessment and continuity of care, management of medications, patients’ rights and education, hospital infection control, care of patients, clarity on the role of management, continuous training of the personnel, facility management systems and information management systems to be in place. When healthcare institutions will pursue aforementioned standards in a synchronized manner, affirmatively we’ll achieve impressive clinical outcomes and enriched patient experience.
Upliftment of the patient experience
The core objective of the quality care is enlivening the experience of its patients. The most pivotal approach in stimulating their encounter with a healthcare facility or a healthcare professional is by expressing unequivocal empathy and compassion. To elaborate on that point; when a doctor takes out time to communicate with the patient and their family; gently as well as by being culturally/demographically sensitive, it gives the patient and the family both a boost of confidence in the doctor and by extension in the healthcare facility too. Healing without hearing is hollow! Healthcare facilities should also be mindful of the average length of stay of patients, waiting time, over or underuse of drugs/tests, evidence-based medical practice, hospital acquired infections as well as the ease of discharge along-with the discharge summary. Cumulatively, this plays a critical role in their experience. After discharge it is imperative for the facility to get a patient feedback as well as make follow-up call to check up on them. These traits make the patient feel valued and aid in measuring the quality. Imbibing these attributes in the working culture of a facility will lead to reduction in adverse events, preventable mortalities/injuries, patient distress and consequently will improve the quality of care given.
Role of management in caregiving
Management of a healthcare facility also plays a central part in the provision of care. It needs to determine a good strategic plan, active participation and incentivization of the employees based on monthly reviews and implementation of teamwork amongst other allied healthcare professionals. Organization’s culture and structure should be set out straight to all the employees; clinical or non-clinical. Regular medical audits and validation of improved healthcare through scrutiny of medical records provide substantial assistance in quality care. Some researchers propose that execution of Six sigma approach in healthcare proves to be very fruitful in improving the application and operational procedures. If public and private sectors cooperate in caregiving at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, healthcare quality can be amplified drastically in the urban as well as rural areas.
As long as the caregivers honorably lead the way in research, innovation, education and have the genuine desire to provide the patients with utmost possible care and experience, i.e., focus on patients’ welfare the future of healthcare in our country will only get brighter and better.
-Parul Budhraja Khanna
Entrepreneurial Biotechnologist with a strong passion for quality healthcare, patient advocacy & patient education.
Email– [email protected]