Quality initiatives are efforts made to build upon the existing work of long-term and post-acute care professions by setting specific and measurable targets to further improve quality of care in nursing centers and assisted living communities. In talking about Examples of Quality Initiatives in Healthcare, it is important to note that data is the heart of any quality initiative. Data helps establish a baseline, determine what changes lead to improvement, and allows for performance comparisons, and evaluates procedural changes. The data healthcare organizations depend on IT teams to guide the data and successfully accomplish quality initiatives.
In order for Information technology teams to guide the data for the successful implementation of quality initiatives in healthcare, there are some attributes they must possess. Let’s call this the five must-haves for IT.
Collaboration is the foundation of every IT must-have. Healthcare leaders understand that data is an integral part of the care quality equation. They also understand that IT’s role in quality improvement is a big one. It is very important for the IT team and healthcare leaders to collaborate. Collaboration brings the right people to the table; it leads to the healthy dialogue that comes with two-way communication. Health system leadership’s role in this dialogue is to keep stakeholders focused on the quality initiatives at stake, facilitate decision making, and, ultimately, take responsibility for the resulting decision.
Feedback in Real-time
Rather than analyzing data retrospectively, real-time feedback empowers health systems to be proactive about their quality goals. Real-time feedback is an important building block of any organization’s data-driven culture and even more so for a healthcare organization. Health systems should start and finish the day with data, through user-friendly dashboards, best practice alerts, etc. As guardians of data, IT teams must prioritize the ability to provide real-time feedback to frontline staff so clinicians can make timely, accurate care decisions that improve patient outcomes and save lives. Providing frontline staff with timely, actionable data is a catalyst for change and improvement. However, an unfortunate side effect of real-time feedback is alert fatigue, which can be distracting and annoying to clinicians and other frontline staff.
Reimbursement is very important and needs to be right all the time hence, coordinated care is the trend. IT must prioritize interoperable systems to improve coordinated care by seamlessly sharing information across settings, sources, and systems, and providing clinicians with information about the whole patient. Integrated systems improve coordinated care by establishing system-wide definitions that facilitate data sharing across settings and providers. Health systems frequently pursue improvements that focus on a specific department, like the emergency department. When other departments aren’t integrated, bottlenecks occur. Integrated systems reduce bottlenecks and increase efficiency. Creating an interoperable infrastructure to improve care coordination requires close collaboration with health system leadership and operational directors to remember the big picture; to prioritize health system quality initiatives over short-term projects. For example, a department might submit a request for a tool that meets a particular need. Eventually, the health system has a repertoire of tools, each requiring a unique skill set to maintain. By keeping the system-wide goals at the forefront, IT will support systems and tools with the biggest impact on the most important, overarching quality initiatives.
Data Best Practices
IT supports several important components of quality initiatives such as data governance, privacy, security, and access. But these components, while important, aren’t enough. IT must also focus on data best practices, such as data utilization, data transparency, and data quality.
EDWs improve data quality and utilization by integrating systems and providing an integrated source of truth. By organizing data from multiple sources (clinical, supply chain, etc.), EDWs cut down on noise, reduce the collection burden on clinicians, encourage making decisions based on high-quality data, and serve as the foundation for quality initiatives. EDWs integrate multiple systems, but information technology’s role in maintaining all of the originating systems is critical.
Engaged Frontline Staff
Frontline staff are the care delivery and process experts. Quality initiatives depend on their support and engagement. Just as health systems are more patient-centered than ever, motivated by their goals of delivering quality care and increasing patient satisfaction, IT needs to take a user-centered approach to developing tools. IT is the liaison between the tools and their users, responsible for gathering requirements, capturing user needs, and iterating until they get it right. User-centered systems and tools engage frontline staff by helping them capture important data throughout the normal course of providing care; data that can be used to track patient progress, decision making and drive quality.
By focusing on the five must-haves: collaboration, real-time feedback, interoperable infrastructure, data best practices, and engaged frontline staff, IT can help health systems navigate the industry’s complexities and accomplish their quality goals.