Quality improvement is a systematic and deliberate approach towards improving the quality of healthcare in measurable ways. Quality improvement also referred to as QI is an ongoing effort to make the process better that has picked up in relevance in recent times like never before. Improving quality is making healthcare safe, timely, patient-centered, effective, efficient and equitable. Researchers and health practitioner constantly find ways to maximize quality improvement. Health Catalyst in this link www.healthcatalyst.com/clinical-quality-improvement-in-healthcare explains in detail the best three steps to prioritize clinical improvement in healthcare.
For Quality improvement in healthcare, there are some defining principles that help health practitioners and health organizations process and navigate quality improvement. Some of these principles will be discussed below.
Defining Principles of Healthcare Improvement
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it
Correct data, at the right time in the right hands.
Quality Improvement is also process management
Managed Care means managing the process and not the health practitioners
If you Can’t Measure it, you Can’t Improve it
In order to improve, you must first measure. This is simple logic but requires a lot. Measurement is very critical in quality improvement. Implementing changes takes time money and manpower and so it’s important to test and measure during the process. This helps to track changes, identify what works and improve as you go along. Deductively., measurement requires data. Data is very important in measurement. Not just any data but meaningful data. Having meaningful data which is then interpreted and understood is one of the first steps to quality improvement. This leads to the next principle
Right/Correct Data, at the Right Time in the Right Hands
This goes exactly as it sounds. Health organizations need the right data at the right time and in the right hand. It’s a trifecta that must always go together for efficient quality improvement. For example, if you have the right data but at the wrong time, it might be useless. And if the right data is available at the right time but to the wrong person (or department) that data becomes either useless or misused. Having data flow efficiently through the organization is very important for quality improvement to take place.
Quality Improvement is also Process Management
Process management is the ensembling of activities of planning and monitoring of performances of a business process for efficiency and effectiveness. When the modern quality improvement approach was developed about 75 years ago, it was developed as a way for modern organizations to deal with complex issues. This approach provided a simple and efficient way to deal with complex issues and challenges. Process management has been used in various industries such as education, government, and corporations to produce amazing results. Same can be achieved for healthcare. Process wise healthcare is not fundamentally different from these industries. The healthcare system and health organizations are made of up hundreds and thousands of links all intertwined by a process. Managing these processes efficiently is essential for quality improvement.
Managed Care Means Managing the Process and not the Health Practitioners
Managed care should focus on managing the process and not manage the health practitioners (i.e doctors, nurses, clinician etc). Understanding this principle is very crucial for quality improvement to be effective. In the past, managed care has been misunderstood as managing and sometimes micro-managing the people instead of the process. This could lead to drastic negative effects. Health practitioners should be included in the process of quality improvement as they understand the system better and are usually the direct recipients of complaints (for feedback purposes) and uses the system every day. They understand it best and should be included in the decision-making process. If the quality improvement approach attempts to manage health practitioners it could lead to a drop in working morale and even worse a worsening of the process and subsequently, quality of healthcare.