The medical field continues to experience innumerable advances as technology continues to evolve. But there is an area of healthcare that is in desperate need of improvement. And that has to do with the quality of healthcare. The current health system still has some work to do when it comes to meeting patient needs, ensuring their safety, as well as the overall efficiency of the system.
This calls for the deliberate redesign of the healthcare system. Thankfully, some measures have been put in place to improve patient outcomes and safety, efficiency, and reduce health costs. In this article, we’ll be discussing ways by which healthcare professionals can improve the quality of the healthcare system to address patient needs and ensure their safety. Here we go.
- Collecting data and analyzing patient outcomes
“If you cannot measure it, you cannot change it.” A management expert, Peter Drucker, said that line and it’s about identifying opportunities for improvement in the healthcare system. There can only be an improvement if there is an understanding of the current system and an analysis of the available data to identify areas to work on.
Health professionals should look at available trends and statistics which they can source from outcome studies, electronic health records, patient satisfaction surveys, and so on. Any of these sources can give healthcare professionals valuable insights into key areas that are in desperate need of improvement.
- Encourage the services of professional medical interpreters
The need for professional medical services has only increased in the post Covid-19 world and we feel there is a need to highlight it. It’s one of the pressing problems highlighted by medical professionals after collecting and analyzing data.
Imagine you were learning how to scuba dive or use a parachute but your instructor spoke another language. Surely, you’d find another instructor or someone that can correctly translate before your life is at risk. This applies to the healthcare system.
There are over 350 languages spoken in American homes despite English being the predominant language. There are also those with limited English proficiency and it’s important that their diagnosis and medical instructions are communicated in a language they understand. And this makes healthcare translation services invaluable in the healthcare system.
- Setting goals and committing to ongoing evaluation
With problems and potential areas for improvement identified, it’s time to set goals and work towards achieving them. It has to be said that improving healthcare isn’t a one time thing. It’s an ongoing process that should be continuously evaluated to detect its effectiveness and areas to improve on.
According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), healthcare should be safe, effective, patient-oriented, timely, efficient, and equitable. All of these are self-explanatory. Being safe means no harm should come to the patient from the care given. Effectiveness has to do with the care being matched to science, timely is about reducing waiting times, and efficiency means to reduce waste.
Equitable has to do with everyone having the same access to healthcare regardless of race or ethnicity. Patient-oriented or patient-centered implies that healthcare professionals should honor individual patients and respect their choices.
- Improve access to care
The single most important factor when it comes to improving healthcare quality is to improve access to care. The access has to be timely – at the right time – to get the right results. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population doesn’t have timely access to healthcare. The main reason for this is the lack of insurance which prevents many patients from accessing preventive or primary care. These people also incur higher healthcare costs, lower-value services.
Improving access to healthcare also involves improving how and where patients are able to access care. Fortunately, there’s a positive emerging trend to achieve this thanks to robust wellness programs and onsite clinics. They help provide more convenient, accessible care.
- Improve focus on patient engagement
One of the ways to improve healthcare quality is to teach patients to be proactive about their health problems. To achieve this, there has to be a focus on patient engagement, a task many health professionals may not be keen to undertake as it’s not particularly easy.
Primary healthcare professionals are in a unique position to engage and educate patients. This is because they are better set up to see the patient’s entire healthcare journey than other health professionals. However, the focus shouldn’t be only on the patients as there are other parties in the patient healthcare journey. These parties include families, other healthcare providers, insurance providers, as well as social services.