A study released in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) in 2020 revealed that of the 140,000 cases of diagnostic errors reported in Australia annually, more than 80% are preventable. Of these 140,000 cases, up to 21,000 can cause serious harm, resulting in anywhere between 2000 and 4000 deaths.
So what can healthcare organisations do to reduce these odds? Here are a few strategies to help organisations avoid misdiagnoses and medical negligence:
- Implement Clinical Decision Support Tools: Clinical decision support tools can provide healthcare professionals with evidence-based guidance on diagnostic testing and treatment options. These tools can help reduce the risk of misdiagnosis by ensuring that healthcare providers consider all the relevant factors in a patient’s care.
- Prioritise Patient-Centred Care: By putting patient-centred care first, medical professionals will better comprehend a patient’s symptoms, worries, and objectives. By increasing the diagnostic process’ accuracy, this strategy can aid in lowering the likelihood of misdiagnosis.
- Provide Education and Training: Healthcare institutions should continue to educate and train medical personnel on the best practices for avoiding incorrect diagnoses and the most recent diagnostic methods. This can help guarantee that medical practitioners know the most recent methods and research for enhancing diagnostic accuracy. This includes providing opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) for nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals.
- Use Quality Improvement Processes:These can help healthcare organisations identify and address factors contributing to misdiagnosis. By analysing diagnostic errors and implementing strategies to prevent them, healthcare organisations can improve the accuracy of diagnoses and reduce the risk of misdiagnosis.
Why is Quality Improvement Important for Healthcare Organisations?
Quality improvement is vital for healthcare organisations for several reasons:
- Better Patient Outcomes: Delivering high-quality care to patients is the main goal of healthcare organisations. Quality improvement efforts help to identify areas for improvement, which can lead to better patient outcomes—for instance, lowering readmissions, enhancing medication safety, and reducing hospital-acquired infections.
- Increased Patient Satisfaction: High-quality care leads to higher patient satisfaction. Patients are more likely to trust their healthcare professionals and promote their services to others when they receive care from healthcare organisations that prioritise quality improvement.
- Cost Savings: Improving the standard of care can help healthcare companies save money. For instance, decreasing the need for expensive interventions, readmissions, and hospital stays length can help reduce healthcare costs.
- Regulation Compliance: Healthcare organisations must abide by many rules, including the quality criteria established by regulatory agencies. Organisations can fulfil these criteria and maintain compliance by engaging in quality improvement programmes.
- Competitive Advantage: In a highly competitive healthcare market, organisations prioritising quality improvement efforts can differentiate themselves from competitors. Patients are more likely to choose healthcare providers that prioritise quality and safety.
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How to Help Educate Your Healthcare Employees on Quality Improvement
There are several ways management can ensure their professionals are continuously working on brushing up their skills and contributing towards the overall quality improvement of the organisations. Here are some of them:
- Provide Quality Improvement Training: Healthcare organisations can provide training on quality improvement methods, tools, and techniques, such as Lean Six Sigma, Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles, and Root Cause Analysis. This training can be delivered through online courses, workshops, or in-person sessions. Some resources to access online courses include:
- Quality Improvement Lead Training Program(ACHS)
- Quality Improvement in Healthcare Specialisation(Coursera)
- Safety and Quality Essentials Pathway(CEC Academy)
- Clinical Governance(AICG)
- Quality Improvement in Healthcare: the Case for Change(Future Learn)
- Share Success Stories: Sharing quality improvement project success stories helps inspire and engage staff. Healthcare organisations can assist staff members in understanding the significance of quality improvement and its potential influence on patient outcomes by providing examples of quality improvement projects.
- Encourage Employee Participation: By forming cross-functional teams and giving staff members chances to participate in quality improvement projects, healthcare organisations can encourage employee participation in quality improvement initiatives. This strategy can aid in developing a culture of quality improvement where staff members are encouraged to make productive changes.
- Provide Continuing Education: Healthcare businesses can provide programmes for Continuing Education with a quality improvement theme. Employees can benefit from opportunities to discuss best practices and stay current on the most recent methodologies and approaches for quality improvement. Some resources for CPD for nurses in Australia include:
- Practice Nurse Central
- Nurse CPD Online
- Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS)
- My Midwifery and Nursing CPD (MNCPD)
- Healthed for Nurses
- Australian College of Nursing
- NSW Nurses & Midwives Association.
- Establish Quality Improvement Metrics: Healthcare organisations can establish quality improvement metrics tied to employee performance evaluations. This approach can help to reinforce the importance of quality improvement and motivate employees to contribute to quality improvement projects.
- Engage a Healthcare Consulting Firm: A healthcare consulting firm can help evaluate problem areas in an organisation and work with the management to bring about positive changes. Many such firms also offer CPD courses for nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals.
In conclusion, quality improvement is crucial for healthcare organisations to enhance patient outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, lower healthcare costs, comply with regulations, and gain a competitive edge.