Every healthcare organization has a responsibility to provide patients with quality care in a safe and secure setting. While no hospital or medical practice aims to fall short, there are many big and small mistakes they might be guilty of making each day. It can consequently lead to poor medical outcomes, slower recovery times, and a bad reputation.
For this reason, organizations of all sizes must aim to eliminate their weaknesses and build on their strengths. For help doing so, read these 14 practical ways to improve healthcare standards.
1. Understand Current Processes
The first step you must take is to gain a thorough understanding of the current processes in place. It is essential to do so before making alterations to your services or introducing new guidance.
There are various ways to find out more about a service, as you could:
- Host informal discussions
- Send online questionnaires
- Deliver workshops
- Review policies
- Create process maps for each procedure
It is also crucial to review an organization externally to identify how its services and image complement the wider community.
Once you have identified areas you might need to tweak, change or build on, you can then create an effective plan, such as introducing additional safety measures, improving patient education, or hiring a nurse practitioner who has completed a doctor of nursing practice program.
Break down the new goals into small, achievable steps. You also might need to work alongside the organization’s business planning team to identify the resources and money it will need to reach its goals.
2. Set Realistic Goals
No healthcare organization is perfect. It doesn’t matter if you have built a positive reputation in your industry; there will always be areas you will need to improve. To set the standard in healthcare, you must set measurable goals for departments that require improvement.
The Institute of Medicine believes organizations must aim to improve the below six factors to provide patients with quality care:
- Safety – patients should not sustain injuries in a setting that intends to help them on the road to recovery
- Effectiveness – ensure medical care complements science and avoid ineffective practices
- Patient-centered – respect an individual’s choice
- Timely – aim to decrease patient waiting times
- Efficiency – reduce waste as much as possible
- Equitable – attempt to close both ethnic and racial gaps in health status
3. Build a Balanced Team
Every healthcare team should feature talented employees from a variety of backgrounds. They should possess different skills and have varying experience levels, which can lead to a balanced, well-rounded team.
Each department should have a senior leader to provide insightful, helpful advice and offer daily direction and support. For example, a family nurse practitioner will have taken the time to complete a doctor of nursing practice program, which will make them highly qualified to lead patient care and improve internal standards. A project manager should also be on staff to ensure a team remains on track for important daily tasks and will provide solutions for various problems.
4. Communicate Goals with Your Team
A healthcare organization must communicate their annual goals with a team, which will ensure everyone is working towards the same milestones each day. It is also essential to encourage feedback and ideas from senior leaders.
A family nurse practitioner will have developed exceptional clinical and leadership skills when completing a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. As a result, they will know how to encourage their staff’s best while ensuring clinical standards never slip. Therefore, it is a wise idea to involve them in the conversation for raising standards across one or more departments.
5. Gather Feedback from Patients
It might be a challenge to improve standards if you don’t know where your organization is going right or wrong. While you might have taken the time to hire healthcare professionals with the appropriate education, such as a doctor of nursing practice or medicine, it might not be enough to provide an exceptional patient experience.
For your organization to improve patient outcomes time and again, you must aim to gather as much feedback as possible from people who have used your services. By listening to their views and opinions, you can identify flaws in a department or across the organization.
Thanks to their impartial feedback, you might discover a department is missing one or more clinical experts to guide and engage a team. You might then need to hire a more qualified healthcare professional or provide talented team members with additional training. For example, a registered nurse could enroll in a doctor of nursing practice program.
6. Support Your Team
Long working hours, intense pressure, and challenging processes can take a physical and emotional toll on medical professionals over time. If staff members experience much stress, there will be a greater likelihood of team conflict, and they could experience a loss of passion for their role and the sector, which is when standards can slip. What’s more, a medical organization might be forced to deal with a high sickness rate, which could be due to staff burnout and illnesses.
Engage with your team to identify the various obstacles they face in their role, which you can help them overcome. The act of talking could also improve their resilience and help them to remember why they chose to embark on a medical degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.
Engaged employees are more likely to support changes to the organization, work hard to improve a facility’s standards, and deliver an exceptional patient experience, which can lead to a higher standard of care. It is, therefore, important employees receive the appropriate support from their managers. They also could cope with the intense pressures of the job with good teamwork and clear communication.
7. An Understanding of Organizational Safety
Every employee has a responsibility to improve organizational safety. While medical professionals will develop exceptional clinical expertise and leadership schools during training and when completing a degree program, such as a doctor of nursing practice, it is a hospital or medical practice’s responsibility to train them about onsite safety. An administrator must outline all safety procedures and policies, and they must update employees of all policy changes. Every member of staff must also feel comfortable to voice their concerns and report issues without repercussion.
8. Communicate Safety Processes to Patients
Many medical facilities have realized the benefits of clearly communicating safety processes for patients. While they once played a passive role in their medical recovery, many hospitals and practices are now educating their patients on their treatment plans and the processes involved, as it can decrease the likelihood of a medical error.
Educated patients understand the various steps involved in their treatment. Plus, they will have received relevant facts related to their specific condition, so they are more likely to flag a potential problem or ask a question to help a healthcare professional make a more informed treatment decision.
9. Focus on a Safe Hospital Design
Many traditional hospitals have made the mistake of focusing on operational efficiency and have disregarded the importance of patient safety. To provide patient-centered care each day, facilities must aim to create interconnected work areas, and they should feature the following structural characteristics, such as:
- Critical information proximity
- Air quality
- Noise dampening
- Contagion reduction (hand sinks, hand sanitizers, etc.)
Modern facilities must also include wiring to safely and reliably power advanced technologies, which can improve patient outcomes and prevent medical errors. However, it is important to note that a safe hospital will require employees, administrators, and patients to follow various protocols to create a healthy and safe environment for everyone.
10. Communicate Duties to Staff
A lack of communication can be detrimental to patient-centered care. While every employee might have the best intentions for patient recovery, many team members might believe a specific task is someone else’s responsibility.
For example, the administration staff might believe a job is the floor nurses’ responsibility, and the floor nurses might believe it’s a physician’s duty. Rather than allowing the game of passing the buck to continue, a healthcare organization must ensure individuals understand their daily responsibilities, which will ensure every box is ticked.
11. Reward Top Talent
Reward and recognition can be a powerful motivator. If you routinely shine a spotlight on a hardworking individual and make them feel valued, they’ll work harder for your organization, and you’ll retain their loyalty. While a nurse might have developed outstanding clinical expertise and leadership abilities when studying for a doctor of nursing practice program, it doesn’t hurt to recognize their performance every once in a while.
If an employee helps an organization reach its annual goals, goes above and beyond to improve the patient experience, and regularly receives glowing feedback from patients or their loved ones, you must make an example of him or her.
For example, you could thank them in an internal or external newsletter, present them with a gift, or you could take the time to thank them personally for all their efforts. A little recognition could keep their passion for healthcare alive and remind them why they work hard for an organization every day.
12. Listen to Patient Advocates
Never underestimate the importance of listening to patient advocates. After all, it is their job to help patients effectively communicate their wishes to a healthcare provider, ensuring they make the right decisions for their health. To do so, a patient advocate will listen to various concerns that they can then communicate to a healthcare team. As a result, a hospital or medical facility can receive valuable feedback or opinions, which they can apply when undertaking procedural changes.
13. Encourage Education and Training
There is no limit to career progression in the healthcare industry, as there are thousands of roles available and many training programs to choose from. For example, a registered nurse could take the time to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree before completing an online doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. Plus, they can do so at a time that complements their full-time job and enjoy a rewarding career as a nurse practitioner.
By encouraging your top talent to advance their skillset and build on their experience, your organization could retain their loyalty as they climb the healthcare ladder. Therefore, you can rest assured that your patients will have access to superb medical expertise, which can lead to a higher standard of care and a stronger industry reputation.
For this reason, you must support professional advancements, such as providing the time and flexibility to allow your top talent to complete a doctor of nursing practice or another program.
14. Preventing Hospital-Acquired Infections
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hospital-acquired infections account for a whopping 1.7 million infections in US hospitals and are responsible for 99,000 associated deaths annually. Hospitals across the country have a responsibility to prevent hospital-acquired infections each day, which can include urinary tract infections and surgical site infections.
To do so, they must:
- Identify patients’ risk of a hospital-acquired infection
- Follow established precautions to decrease transmissions
- Observe hand hygiene
- Monitor risk factors (such as regularly changing a catheter, cleaning a wound, etc.)
Hospital-acquired infections must be at the forefront of employees’ minds each day, which is why signage should be posted on the facility’s walls.
Improving healthcare standards isn’t a simple task. If you want to transform care for patients and develop a positive reputation in the sector, you might need to overhaul an organization’s procedures, policies, and teams.
For example, you must take the time to build a rock-solid, balanced team that understands their individual responsibilities and the organization’s goals. It would help if you also support your team’s development, such as encouraging them to complete additional programs, such as a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
If you focus on patient-centered care, reward your hardworking team, and aim to improve onsite safety, you could soon receive glowing feedback from regulators, patients, and visitors.