You don’t set out to make improvements if you don’t know where to focus your attention. It is not accidentally found or ever truly achieved because there is always more that you can do. Does that mean that you quit before you start due to the overwhelming amount of work that will go into change? Obviously not, performance improvement in healthcare just requires more knowledge, insight and willingness to admit that you don’t know it all.
Healthcare has an unspoken expectation of high quality due to the fact that people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. As such, it is necessary to measure performance against previous numbers as well as other healthcare organizations to develop a clearer understanding of how you rank and whether you are getting better or worse at providing care.
In some cases, performance standards and goals are out of your hands and are requirements that must be met by government and other organizations to which you report. That still doesn’t negate the fact that one person usually doesn’t have the clout, ability or support to navigate an entire organization toward a new destination. For this reason, it is necessary to measure performance throughout the organization to provide a picture of fact-based analysis showing deficiencies or less than ideal outcomes. There are also more specific reasons to performance measurements.
Pinpointing areas in need of performance improvements is much more easily stated than actually found. Biases come into play and many organizations are bogged down with an overabundance of data that has more value as scrap paper rather than informative data, sometimes known as spreadsheet overload. Missing out on the realization that there are problems or at least problematic areas leads to waste and lower satisfaction in patient care and outcomes. For this, you may want to seek outside analysis and involvement.
Just like the old adage says that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, you also tackle changes and involvement of different department one step at a time rather than the organization as a whole. Performance improvement in healthcare sometimes come when success is seen to changes in one small area. From there, other departments and individuals may have a more open view and less doubts as to what is being asked of them. Sometimes this requires a readiness assessment to reveal things like acceptance to change, impact both short- and long-term, and helpfulness for patient care and outcomes.
You also should plan to do this all by yourself. There are too many things at stake, along with too many questions, too many people to guide and not enough time in the day to adequately implement process changes. Establishing teams with specific roles and responsibilities not only spreads the workload out, but provides a sufficient number of people to handle all the forms and functions that will be called upon.
An added benefit to creating a team or teams dedicated to this work is that when one project, such as implementation into one department, has happened, this team can remain in place and work on the next project already knowing and understanding their tasks. Experience goes a long way to helping to reassure individuals and assure success within a large healthcare organization.
To achieve performance improvement in healthcare change is going to be required as you don’t want to fall into the definition of insanity as laid out by Albert Einstein, which is the doing of the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. The old ways in healthcare are being replaced by fact-based decisions that will reduce the amount of waste the occurs and helping to provide better and more efficient care to everyone.
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