Performance Improvement in Healthcare
Addressing performance improvement in healthcare is a little more difficult than your typical work environment.
What makes it difficult is that many times healthcare providers are fearful of disclosing that they have made errors both as individuals and organizations. Their belief, and to a degree they would be right, is that once they disclose they have made an error it puts their career and the organization at risk of legal action. Remember we live in a law suit happy world!
Nevertheless we must press forward with performance improvements in healthcare in order to become better and more efficient.
So how in the world do we balance the need for improvement and the risk of losing our jobs and/or incurring large law suits?
The very first step is to create an environment where identifying potential problems is without penalty before they result in injury or death of patients.
In other words create a system where it is risk free to identify near misses.
Having this type of environment where individuals are free to report something that almost happened allows you to analyze and work toward fixing something before someone is injured.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
Let’s assume that the Pharmacy delivered the wrong medication to a patient but the patient was the one that identified to the Pharmacist that they had received the wrong prescription. The patients hadn’t taken any of the medication. In fact they identified before leaving the pharmacy.
In order to improve performance it is important to take a look at this purely from the perspective of trying to find out what went wrong and not trying to find blame. Assigning blame will almost always close the door to the truth or in other words the real problem and solution.
In the above example it could be as simple as the pharmacist just filled it incorrectly, to something more common as an incorrect abbreviation used by the doctor. Understanding that something went wrong in the process allows you to work toward correcting the problem.
A Patient Receives the Wrong Food Tray!
If everyone involved in that incident is able to closely examine what happened and try to improve the process without fear of discipline you have a much better chance of resolving the situation.
Another example of a near miss might be where a nurse walks into a patient’s room that just received a food tray that included food items that they should not have received. If the patient had eaten the food items they may have incurred serious medical problems.
If we examine the tray process all the way back to the beginning without fear of discipline you are going to get to the heart of the matter and possibly resolve the issue from happening again.
This is what performance improvement in healthcare is all about. Getting better at delivering healthcare for the benefit of the patient(s) is the main purpose of any performance improvement in healthcare.