The healthcare industry is arguably one of the industries that make use of data. Data is used in all segments of healthcare and even in areas you never thought to think of. The latest uses of data have been in empowering patients. Data Can Empower Patients and healthcare organizations are learning this and are working harder to take advantage of it. One way healthcare organizations can leverage data for the many advantages it brings is by gathering data through clinical measurements. Many clinical metrics are driven mostly by government regulations and figuring out how best to meet these regulations is a good place to start.
Steps to Solving Quality Issues Using Data
- Healthcare organizations and professionals should review the top literature in the subjects and field as well to see what the best practices for that area are and whether you’re following them.
- Another step in measuring quality is getting feedback from the stakeholders on how they best want to solve quality issues. Healthcare Organizations should be careful not to use too many metrics is there can be an overflow of ideas from stakeholders. A prover sieving mechanism should be employed to separate the great ideas and feedback from the shaft.
- The healthcare organization should continue to identify goals for quality improvement even when they seem achievable. These goals should be stored in a “knowledge bank” or organizations wide “to-do list”. Is the healthcare organization continues to gather these goals and tips, after a while, they will need to decide on which of them to start working on. There must be a constant assessment of what has been gathered otherwise it becomes too bulky a project with vital ideas and information being lost in the crowd. The program could become too unwieldy.
- A healthcare organization could also create smaller clinical metrics groups that would be based on specific topics and/or specific metric areas. One common way smaller clinical groups are grouped is through their AIM statements. Aim statements are powerful because they focus on a specific improvement in a specific population, and provide a timeframe to accomplish it. They give quality improvement teams a sense of direction and help them identify the steps that need to be taken to accomplish those goals.
- When a clinical metric group identifies its AIM statement, then it can easily determine which metrics are best to use. The team assigned can then use the information to determine the quality improvement and process changes. The specifics of the metrics can also enable better evidence-based interventions that will be required to remove any barriers and achieve the desired quality outcomes.
- Smaller clinical metric groups can help determine what information should be examined and with what level of scrutiny. This will help determine whether new processes are being followed and make corrections to ensure that quality is being constantly improved and project standards are being followed.
Ensuring Consistent Clinical Metrics With Proper Data Storage
So we already mentioned above that metrics should be constantly taken account of and ways to improve metrics should constantly be improved on. This is because quality improvement is and should be an ongoing process. One of the challenges of a quality improvement initiative is getting the right information you need.
Most healthcare organizations store their clinical information in Electronic Health Records (EHR) however it depends on how up to date and efficient an electronic health record is. Even if it says it contains certain information or metrics, it might not be the case.
This happens more than many realize and you don’t know how bad it is, till you are facing the problem yourself and you can’t access the data you need. If, and in most cases when this happens, your clinical program team will need to determine where the best place to capture that information is and how to gain compliance among the clinicians you are working with to ensure they enter data in the same place consistently.
This is why healthcare organizations need a functioning and efficient data management team made up of data analysts and equipped with the right tool such is software and programs to manage the storage, inputting, labeling, binding, and access of data in a healthcare organization.
Performance Improvement Using Data
To achieve performance improvement in healthcare change is going to be required as you don’t want to fall into the definition of insanity as laid out by Albert Einstein, which is the doing of the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. The old ways of healthcare are being replaced by fact-based decisions that will reduce the amount of waste the occurs and helping to provide better and more efficient care to everyone.
Just like the old adage says that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, you also tackle changes and involvement of different department one step at a time rather than the organization as a whole. Performance improvement in healthcare sometimes come when success is seen to changes in one small area.
From there, other departments and individuals may have a more open view and fewer doubts as to what is being asked of them. Sometimes this requires a readiness assessment to reveal things like acceptance to change, impact both short- and long-term, and helpfulness for patient care and outcomes. You also should plan to do this all by yourself. There are too many things at stake, along with too many questions, too many people to guide and not enough time in the day to adequately implement process changes.
Establishing teams with specific roles and responsibilities not only spreads the workload out but provides a sufficient number of people to handle all the forms and functions that will be called upon.
An added benefit to creating a team or teams dedicated to this work is that when one project, such as implementation into one department, has happened, this team can remain in place and work on the next project already knowing and understanding their tasks. Experience goes a long way to helping to reassure individuals and assure success within a large healthcare organization.