Among the priorities faced by today’s healthcare professionals is the need for continuous improvement in patient outcomes. This could be anything from reducing the number of falls in a care home to improving infection control rates in hospitals. Improving outcomes can be achieved by building quality into every step of the patient’s journey, and meeting regulations by ensuring that their care is patient-centred. A starting point is establishing consistent approaches across your organisational processes and supporting your healthcare employees with the right tools for the job.
In the article below, we look at six distinct tools that can help you support your employees to build quality and efficiency in your healthcare organisation.
Appointment Reminder Services
In 2019, it was reported that the cost of missed appointments in the NHS was £216 million. Add to this the costs incurred by private organisations and the overall amount would be staggering.
Costs can be cut dramatically with the introduction of text appointment reminders. A simple message can remind patients of their appointment and give them a number to call to reschedule if they can’t make it. This is a great customer service tool which will cut the number of forgotten appointments.
Evidence from a Department of Health study shows that the number of failed appointments reduced by 23% when patients were also advised of the cost to the service of them missing their appointment. With a range of software systems available, this simple solution can be adopted quickly with a comparatively small financial investment.
Shift Scheduling and Reminders Services
Of course, however professional your employees are, it’s not just patients who need occasional reminders. Missed shifts or tardiness at work can be a problem when it comes to manning crucial functions within your facility. The use of medical rota software offers similar functionality by reminding employees of when their upcoming shifts are and giving them instant access to upcoming work schedules wherever and whenever they need to check their rota.
Other features include the ability to pick and choose shifts with managerial approval and see a live, real-time version of the latest rota just by logging into the site or tool. Many solutions can even combine payroll functions to simplify the administrative efforts required by your back-end teams.
Health and Safety Risk Management Systems
It has been reported that outstanding medical negligence claims in the NHS have reached £83bn. Establishing figures for private companies is harder, but the cost to any organisation is high, even if you look only at the administrative and reputational burden of defending a claim.
Improving the patient journey by ensuring high clinical standards is vital for all healthcare providers, and for organisations registered with the Care Quality Commission, it is a statutory regulation. Organisations who put safety at the heart of their values build a positive reputation and reap the benefits that come along with this.
Whether you adopt a software solution to log and assess risk, or create something within your existing systems, best practice risk assessment guidance is available from the Health and Safety Executive to ensure you put appropriate standards in place.
Care Plan Management Systems
Care plan management is at the heart of patient-centred services. However, the BMJ reported in 2014 that record keeping was often seen as a low priority by busy healthcare workers. Another vital part of statutory requirements, the completion of legible, unambiguous care plans is fundamental to high standards.
Making sure that employees know what is expected of them is vital and having a clear policy within your organisation will help to ensure a consistent approach. This also means that managers can deal much more quickly and fairly when standards are not met. There is a wealth of information available to guide organisations through best practice approaches and various electronic systems are available for organisations who want to adopt a paperless option.
Training Management Systems
All organisations are required to ensure that statutory training is delivered to keep employees and patients safe. Excellent guidance is available from the Health and Safety Executive, but in a healthcare setting there will be additional training deemed to be mandatory for employees in particular roles. This type of training forms another statutory regulation for organisations governed by the CQC.
Having a system that lists your employees, the training they have undertaken and when updates are required can feel like a huge task. But there are dedicated software systems which enable managers to keep these records in a streamlined and user-friendly way, and to report easily on key metrics.
More important than the finer details of a particular solution is embedding a commitment to recruiting and retaining skilled staff will demonstrate a positive organisational culture. This will prove beneficial to patients and employees alike.
Humble checklists may seem like a simple solution, but in 2019, NHS England celebrated the 10th anniversary of the World Health Organisation’s ‘Surgical Safety Checklist’. This tool is attributed with saving many lives and improving outcomes for patients across the world.
The rate of death, which stood at 1.5% before the checklist was introduced, fell to just 0.8% after implementation.
Checklist usage has also been found to improve communication between staff members, and empower them to raise problems or concerns when they arise. This in turn leads to a more satisfied workforce and lower turnover. Bottom line savings are also achieved by streamlining processes and avoiding duplication.
While there are plenty of checklist solutions out there, finding one right for your healthcare organisation is likely to depend on the existing tools you have in place—adding a simple digital document to a monitor or tablet, or a laminated sheet of paper to a clipboard, are a couple quick and easy ways to raise standards by following an explicit standardised procedure.
Whichever of the above tools you choose to adopt to support your healthcare workers, ensure changes are made through a process that involves them, considers their feedback, and generates buy-in from those who will be most affected by the changes. After all, they are the people who will be using these solutions, and only with their efforts will you see the true benefits these tools can have on your healthcare organisation.