Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to improving patient care
What is it?
Quality Improvement is reflecting on experiences that inform shortcomings and being willing to look at how a team or medical institution can progress. It is striving for goals and welcoming feedback from others in order to improve patient care.
Why is it important?
There are many patients and healthcare providers in search of the physicians and nurses who can meet their needs. With our rapidly evolving medical knowledge and practices, valuing and striving for improvement is integral to being a qualified and hireable employee. In addition, when Quality Improvement becomes part of a culture, it can boost employee morale; both staff and patients see that barriers to care they face each day are being addressed. Nurses play a significant part in overcoming these barriers, their contributions ranging from improving hand washing hygiene to reducing ventilator-associated pneumonia, etc.
- Discuss Shortcomings and Failures
First, shift to a culture that has open dialogue about shortcomings. One of the best ways to improve patient care is to learn from failed practices. Creating a culture where people discuss rather than hide their mistakes is crucial. Blame free reporting systems can help analyze system breakdowns and then learn from them to improve the bigger system. Regular after action reviews where team members are encouraged to discuss what worked, didn’t work, and should be done differently can also be a great help.
- Push for Higher Standards
Second, maintain a vision of excellence. Leaders need to be the standard bearers of their professional communities. They need to be willing to stand up and say “This is not good enough. We can do better.” With this expectation, they must also have a clear vision of what “better” will look like with specific, measurable goals. Then they can then use those objectives to collect data, measure performance and monitor improvement.
- Get Regular Feedback
Finally, improve patient care by getting regular and systematic feedback from patients. Formal and informal feedback should guide clinical practice and standard operating procedures. Exit interviews, follow up phone calls, and conversations with patient’s families can be rich sources of ongoing data. Don’t wait for your institution to implement a feedback platform. Take a few hours each month to collect this data on your own. Make a plan to collect patient feedback, and follow through with your strategy.