Improving patient outcomes and the success of the practice are common goals for healthcare providers. Delivering on these goals requires the involvement of the whole practice team, not just the clinical staff.
The Commonwealth Government is driving quality improvement by incentivising general practices to participate in activities through the Practice Incentives Program’s Quality mprovement Program.
Although focusing on general practice, the principles of improving quality are ones that could benefit any practice, including team-based approaches, peer review, reflective practice, best practice and data analysis.
Looking at quality improvement across all operations, not just clinical care, benefits patient outcomes and the business.
To obtain engagement and feedback from the practice team about quality improvement initiatives and performance, consider:
Encourage easy-to-implement solutions as this reduces barriers to change. This could be as simple as reviewing processes, then implementing strategies to improve clinical communication and associated processes, for example, regarding pathology tests and reports.
The quality improvement process can be split into two components; the thinking and the doing.
The thinking part involves discussions around what to change, the aims and how they will be accomplished. You then need to consider how you will know that a change has delivered an improvement.
These ideas can be driven from internal issues such as a failing procedure, a patient complaint or a staff resignation. Externally, factors such as Medicare reforms or privacy legislation changes are also good drivers for quality improvement initiatives.
The doing part is about the designing and implementation of the plan. It includes studying the success of the plan, identifying and acting on obstacles and adjusting the plan to ensure its success.
Taking staff on the improvement journey can increase morale and job satisfaction as goals are achieved, making the practice a more desirable place to work.
This article was originally published in Connect Issue no.13