Hospital quality improvement is a continuous process that ensures all departments in the healthcare facility collaborate and work together to provide better care to patients. Hence professionals who provide direct treatment to patients are in the proper position to determine and improve hospital quality. This includes nurses and doctors. Still, since nurses spend more time with patients, they can probably lend the most valuable feedback. These healthcare professionals work at the heart of the healthcare system. They are among the best individuals to assess the quality of service and suggest improvements. So, how can nurses participate in hospital quality improvements? We’ve listed a few ways below.
By improving their knowledge and leadership skills
Because of the nature of their jobs, nurses need to remain competent and competitive while performing their duties. A penchant for learning is a crucial skill every nurse must possess. And this skill empowers them to make a considerable difference in the healthcare system. Besides enhancing their careers, it allows nurses to improve their knowledge and learn the latest quality improvement methods in healthcare. For this reason, many full-time nurses are now enrolling in online BSN to DNP programs to learn new tricks of the trade and step into leadership positions. These new roles enable nurses to suggest evidence-based treatment improvements by conducting research, leading to better quality of service and patient outcomes.
By analyzing data and outcomes
Hospitals generate a considerable amount of data every time a patient enters the hospital and others exit. This includes patient vitals, treatment success/failure rates, financial information, demographics, etc. Like any industry, data helps decision-makers make informed decisions that eventually work in the best interest of patients and healthcare facilities. While the decision-making powers of RNs and nurse assistants may be limited, nurse leaders and managers have more authority and can make better use of such crucial information. Skilled and qualified nurses can use this data to analyze the success of treatment plans and suggest improvements.
Set realistic goals
Data gathered can also help nurses set measurable and concrete goals for the areas that require quality improvements. These areas can be directly related to patients or can also be related to nursing teams and workflow management. Setting goals helps to give direction. Moreover, these goals should also be quantitative and precise. According to the IOM (Institute of Medicine), six pillars of quality healthcare or improvement aims will guide your improvement goals. Moreover, they also state, healthcare should be;
- Safety; avoid injuries to patients
- Patient-centered care-respect and honor the patient’s choices
- Effectivity; increase use of adequate care and decrease the use of ineffective care
- Efficiency; reduce healthcare waste and properly dispose of it
- Timely care; decrease patient waiting times.
- Racial competence; close ethnic and racial gaps in healthcare
Creating a well-balanced nursing team
A well-balanced nursing team makes work on the floor easier. It also ensures that patients’ diverse needs are addressed on time. According to the IHI (Institute of Healthcare Improvement), creating a balanced team of skilled individuals is amongst the main steps in the quality improvement process.
An excellent nursing team must comprise nurses from various educational backgrounds, skillsets, expertise, and experience. The team must also include a senior individual, such as a nurse manager, who can advocate, oversee, and advise junior nurses on the best way to go about administering treatment. This individual should have the expertise required to make better, more informed clinical decisions to keep the team on track and accomplish positive healthcare outcomes.
Develop an executable plan
In order to achieve goals effectively and timely, nurses need to develop an achievable improvement plan. The plan must include particular definitions for improvements taken from data analysis work and goal setting, specific measures, and techniques to obtain those measurements. Furthermore, nurses must have a proper tracking system to monitor measurements and data as they change accordingly.
Moreover, nurses can also go on the internet to search for guides on project management for nurses and other healthcare professionals. They can also visit the Healthcare Resources and Services Administration’s website to find detailed instructions for creating and implementing a quality improvement plan.
Collaborate with other healthcare organizations
Particular websites like Patient Care Link provide healthcare industry workers and patients a platform to look at trends and hospital data. So, as s nurse, consider reviewing this data to identify which healthcare organization excels in a specific area in which your hospital is trying to improve.
After that, write an email or pick up the phone to reach out to these healthcare organizations to learn more about their quality improvement techniques. You will find that most of these healthcare organizations are open to sharing their methods for the good of the patients.
Nurses play a crucial role in the quality improvement of a hospital or any other healthcare organization. However, a nurse won’t be able to implement or incorporate these improvements alone. They must collaborate with ancillary personnel and other healthcare staff and include them in their efforts. Quality improvement is all about positive interactions between internal departments to build a dynamic work culture that constantly improves the outcomes and processes of healthcare services.