5 Ways to Improve Quality of Care at Your Facility
Healthcare leaders and administrators play a vital role in patient outcomes. As a manager of a facility or residence, you’re likely responsible for managing infrastructure and resources, while supporting the nursing professionals on your staff. You know that you want to improve the quality of care in your facility, but are left with questions about how to get started.
The idea of quality care is broad, with large- and small-scale implications. In this article, we’ll explain how this term is defined, why it should be a priority, and key areas of focus when implementing new initiatives at your facility or residence.
What Is Quality of Care in Healthcare?
Quality of care in nursing refers to the ability of a healthcare organization to meet the needs and expectations of its patients in a number of categories. Quality care examples are outlined by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the six domains of quality care:
- Safe — Avoid injuring or harming patients with care that is intended to help them.
- Effective — Offer evidence-based care that achieves desired health outcomes.
- Patient-centered — Provide care that is respectful of patient preferences, needs, and values.
- Timely — Deliver care in a prompt manner, reducing wait times and delays in treatment and diagnosis.
- Efficient — Limit the waste of resources, including time, equipment, supplies, energy, and ideas.
- Equitable — Provide consistent care across different populations regardless of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, location, or other characteristics.
Quality of Care in Healthcare: Why Is It Important?
The importance of quality nursing care is a foundational concept in medical practice. Quality care leads to improved patient outcomes — benefits to the health status and quality of life for patients or residents — which is a primary goal of healthcare organizations.
Unfortunately, the quality of care in the U.S. often falls behind that of other countries. In fact, U.S. healthcare is among the most expensive in the world, yet studies show that the hefty price tag is often met with a quality of care that fails to meet expectations. In response, government initiatives have been created to improve safety and quality in the nation’s long-term care residences and nursing homes.
Prioritizing quality of care in your facility is also important because it’s regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and can be tied to funding. CMS assesses quality measures to maintain accountability and address quality of care issues in facilities and residences that receive Medicare or Medicaid.
How to Improve Quality of Care in Healthcare
You’re likely wondering how to improve the care provided at your facility or residence. Use the ideas below as a starting point when planning new initiatives.
1. Prioritize Training and Education
The nursing staff at your facility or residence is key to improving quality of care. Continuing education and training are essential to ensure that your staff is current in their understanding of the latest treatments and procedures. Targeted education and training can also reduce nurse burnout by helping your nursing staff understand the intricacies of the illnesses their patients commonly experience.
For example, nurses serving a geriatric population can be educated about conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This will not only equip them to provide more effective and safe care, but the increased vocational confidence could reduce nurse turnover levels in your organization.
2. Increase Access to Care
If a patient isn’t able to access care in a timely manner, their outcomes will be negatively affected. Reducing barriers to care is imperative to a high quality of care, such as ensuring that services are accessible in underserved areas and addressing physical limitations like transportation and cost.
In addition to physical access, make sure that your facility is considering cultural factors that could impact access to care: language, beliefs, and customs. Take steps to overcome communication barriers, connect with community groups, and educate staff members on how differing customs could impact a patient’s healthcare preferences.
3. Engage Patients and Families
Throughout their healthcare experience, patients and their families should be encouraged to ask questions, express concerns, and be included in the decision-making process. This focus on shared decision-making is an important part of patient-centered care and can lead to improved patient satisfaction and health outcomes, lowered costs, and special recognitions and designations awarded by outside agencies.
4. Improve Communication
Communication is key to improving quality of care. Focus on improving communication between staff and patients or families, ensuring that explanations of diagnoses, treatments, and medications are clear and understandable.
It’s also important to facilitate communication among your staff. Nursing professionals often have innovative solutions to problems, so it’s important that your nurse administrators are open to feedback and encourage innovation. Quality of care will benefit when all members of the healthcare team work together, collaborating and contributing to continuous improvement.
5. Measure and Monitor Quality
As you make improvements to your facility or residence, remember to track your progress. You might consider measuring patient outcomes and satisfaction, clinical processes, medical errors, patient safety, and use of healthcare resources.
Frequent reflection is essential to identify where improvements can be made and if new initiatives are effective. Make sure you commit to evidence-based practices by using the best available research to guide the healthcare choices in your facility or residence. If your facility focuses on improvements in these five areas, you’ll be more prepared to provide safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable care.
Learn More to Help Improve Your Facility
Great leaders make a commitment to continuous learning. As you take initiative to improve the quality of care at your facility or residence, you might discover that you want more healthcare-focused content. The IntelyCare newsletter provides useful insights to support you as you elevate care at your facility or residence.