You can find the first part of this miniseries in the May blog post: Measuring Quality across an Enterprise; What’s the Point? We discuss why measuring quality is important and what components should be measured. In today’s post, we will dive into different challenges in measuring and executing on quality initiatives.
The Data and Tools
It can be challenging to ensure the right data is available to make smart decisions. It is vital that all the important data points are available within the EMR (or other systems) and agreed upon as sources of truth for proper benchmarking. This process helps establish a shared understanding and makeup of the relevant key performance indicators in order to better understand daily operations and target areas. Identifying the pertinent areas to spend time, money, and energy requires constant monitoring. A tool should be in place to help remove the need for manual calculations and provide automated analytics to properly track these metrics and changes over time. It is important to involve all those affected in creating and monitoring metrics, as well as providing informed recommendations on how to improve it.
The People and Processes
Many organizations share similar experiences of not having enough capacity to internally review processes. Resourcing limitations are a common hurdle in fully executing performance improvement initiatives. Being tasked with what seems like additional work can be exhausting. However, involving staff to determine the biggest pain points and potential improvements will yield better results and long-lasting improvement.
It is important to encourage an environment for problem solving and improvement. Continuous improvement, allowing for small changes over time, can also encourage staff to work towards goals rather than overhauling everything all at once. There also need to be processes in place for staff to communicate potential improvement ideas and clear levels of accountability so that staff feel confident that positive change is a priority. Establishing who is accountable and responsible for progress of the continuous improvement life cycle helps in the measurement and improvement of quality across an organization by further driving the core initiatives.
The Leadership and Culture
Another critical challenge to be aware of is that an organization can focus too much on the numbers and not on the patients, processes, and meeting reasonable financial costs. The right structure and expectations need to be set in place from the top down for all to work towards the same goal. Strong leadership alongside a participatory culture, clear direction, and flexibility are key to successful implementation. Allowing critical feedback and encouraging continuous improvement efforts will improve quality and set new standards for quality. Improvement work aligned with the interests of stakeholders and tied into enduring policy has a better chance of securing positive influence over time and in turn greater success.
How Can We Help?
Our team has expertise in extracting and analyzing data. We turn data into meaningful information that organizations can act on. With stakeholder involvement and our Service Delivery Process, we strive to guide our clients in the delivery of high-quality and patient-centered care.
About the Author
Jess Colon has been with IPS as a healthcare consultant since 2015, with experience working on projects in various departments of the hospital including Emergency Department, Radiology, and Infection Control. Using her client experience, she has also supported various software tools as a Product Owner. She is an ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt implementing many concepts through various process improvement projects. She is currently on the ASQ Six Sigma Forum Leadership team, supporting members in the quality space. Prior to joining IPS, she worked in continuous improvement for manufacturing medical devices.