Enhancing patient safety is a continuous challenge. Proactive measures build community trust and minimize adverse experiences. Here are five ways to improve safety in healthcare facilities.
What is Patient Safety?
Patient safety goes beyond the physical safety of patients. According to the World Health Organization, patient safety is “a framework of organized activities that creates cultures, processes, procedures, behaviors, technologies and environments in healthcare” that reduce the risk of unnecessary harm to patients. Modern healthcare is a complex ecosystem influenced by a continuous stream of new technology, medicine, and treatment options. Patient safety ensures these factors work together in a way that minimizes errors that could negatively impact patient care and clinical outcomes.
5 Tips for Improving Patient Safety at Your Hospital
1. Re-invest in a Patient-Centric Care Approach
In the 20th century, healthcare relied strongly on evidence-based treatments, where the attending doctor dictated a course of action for the patient, and the patient was, by and large, expected to accept the doctor’s judgments passively. In recent decades, the importance of patient-centric care has become apparent. It involves patients involved in healthcare decisions and emphasizes open communication, shared decision-making, and education. The patient is informed on all aspects of their condition and treatment plan and has a say in treatment choices.
Patient-centric care has not replaced evidence-based treatments. Instead, the two modalities are symbiotic, creating trust and promoting the best possible treatment outcomes. Patient-centric care also asks patients to verify all medical procedures, reducing error risk and improving patient safety in locations of care.
2. Measure Your Hospital's Current Patient Safety Culture
Hospital staff have practical, day-to-day experience with patient safety issues that may go unnoticed by the administration. Take advantage of this deep well of knowledge by surveying your team and asking them to raise safety concerns. The results of such surveys help you accurately evaluate the nature of your existing patient safety culture and identify areas of concern. The AHRQ provides free patient safety culture surveys for hospital use.
3. Identify Gaps in Processes
Your patient safety culture survey results help you run a gap analysis. A gap analysis looks for the holes in your patient safety processes and procedures, illuminating where you’re taking steps toward patient safety and quality improvement and where your facility falls short. For instance, you may discover a need to automate your ability to track the movement of vendors and patient visitors on-site or find patient transfers increase gaps in continuity of care.
4. Reset Expectations for Compliance
Great patient care starts with a robust credentialing process and credential requirements help your employees understand the hospital’s expectations for compliance regarding patient safety, including standards of care, visitor access and restrictions, and patient privacy. A hospital's compliance plan must align with regulatory compliance standards, and all employees must have the appropriate credentials and training to serve patients safely.
In addition to clearly outlined compliance policies, employees should have a safe way to voice concerns if they see gaps in patient safety processes or need to report non-compliant behavior. Assurances must be in place that the administration will address concerns with impartiality and without reprisal.
5. Optimize Your Discharge Process
Readmissions after discharge can be inevitable, but many cases are avoidable. Work with patients to ensure compliance with medication and treatments, including postsurgical care, and schedule any necessary follow-up appointments.
All treatment and follow-up visit information would be made available to the patient, either in print form, through an online portal, or on a mobile app. Include the contact information of relevant hospital departments and a list of post-visit symptoms that indicate the need for further (or immediate) medical attention.
Final Thoughts on Patient Safety
Patient safety and quality of care are ongoing projects for all hospitals. New challenges develop over time, necessitating new ways to ensure or enhance safety. A consistent approach to identifying, evaluating, and resolving potential issues is the best path toward continuous improvement.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. At IntelliCentrics, we have helped over 10,000 facilities improve their operational efficiencies, grow their revenue, and improve their compliance. Our digital technology has been optimized over 20 years to deliver best in class vendor and medical credentialing, as well as payer enrollment. If you would like to learn more, please click on the button below and schedule 15 minutes with one of our team members.