Improving Quality of Care in 2020 and Beyond
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations are increasingly focused on improving the quality of patient care. This is driven partly by the move to value-based reimbursement models, competition among healthcare companies, and the more recent COVID-19 public health emergency, which put a spotlight on healthcare’s strengths and weaknesses.
With more attention than ever placed on the quality of care, what can healthcare organizations do to improve? Here are a few ideas you should consider.
Embrace Patient Advocacy
The expansion of technology and information has given patients an enormous amount of choice and knowledge about their healthcare. This has helped individuals become more savvy healthcare consumers, becoming their own advocates. More patients feel that they have a say in what a diagnosis means, their treatment, and how they interact with care teams.
Healthcare organizations should seek to bring patient advocacy into their workplace culture, providing education and guidance to patients and families. This assistance may apply to administrative issues, like navigating healthcare billing, or to clinical issues, like understanding cancer treatment.
Organizations may or may not create a specific role for patient advocates. Even without hiring patient advocates, they can still bring patient advocacy into their culture. You should consider the following:
- Requesting feedback from recent patients;
- Implementing follow-up care programs;
- Assigning a single point of contact for patients after discharge; and
- Encouraging patients to discuss care quality issues with clinicians.
Attract and Hire Quality Employees
Providing high-quality care includes recruiting and hiring top talent, but finding the right candidates in healthcare can be challenging. Despite a candidate shortage, organizations cannot afford to relax their standards. The wrong hire not only risks the organization’s reputation, but the health and safety of its patients as well.
Healthcare HR leaders should be proactive about recruiting appropriate candidates, rather than waiting for the right people to come to them. You should consider the following:
- Encouraging current employees to become brand ambassadors by asking them to share your content, including new job openings;
- Using specific social media searches and consider promoted posts and ads that target desired qualities;
- Engaging with potential candidates before and during the vetting process; and
- Screening applicants thoroughly, using a variety of background checks that include criminal records, education and licensing, and OIG exclusions.
Invest in Healthcare Worker Training
High-quality care is impossible when healthcare workers are not adequately trained to deliver it. Healthcare organizations and medical facilities must ensure that their team members at all levels and departments receive thorough training appropriate to their roles. Some ways to accomplish that include:
- Offering a variety of modalities with employee training, including in-person sessions, online tutorials, and mobile-friendly options;
- Being open to new training methods, including augmented reality;
- Updating curricula regularly;
- Encouraging mentorship relationships between older and newer employees;
- Offering refresher courses to keep employee knowledge current;
- Supporting continuing education with reimbursement or paid time off; and
- Encouraging lifelong learning among team members.
Improve the Employee Experience
Quality of care tends to decline when healthcare workers are stressed, unhappy, and/or disengaged. Organizations must address issues in the workplace that detract from the employee experience. These best practices can include:
- Taking steps to improve employee engagement and retention;
- Streamlining work environments and supply chains so that healthcare workers can quickly access what they need, reducing frustration and wasted time;
- Making employee safety a priority by addressing risks of workplace violence as well as transmission of diseases like COVID-19; and
- Addressing staffing shortages quickly to avoid burnout, high turnover, and low performance among existing employees.
Use Continuous Screening for Current Employees
While most organizations perform one-time background checks for new hires, this only provides information about a single point in time. Red flags may emerge after the candidate has been hired, and the employer may not find out until it is too late.
With continuous screening (or infinity screening), healthcare organizations can monitor employee records in real-time. HR managers can be alerted to threats that may occur during an individual’s employment. Continuous employment screening is becoming increasingly popular, in and out of the healthcare industry, as more police departments and court systems move their records online and data scanning and analysis become more accurate. Leveraging this option allows healthcare organizations to further boost care quality by mitigating potential risks.
Providing high-quality care is key to keeping a healthcare organization compliant and competitive. Hiring, training, and retaining the best employees can help your organization stay ahead of the curve.