Technology and the 6 domains of healthcare quality

Now more than ever, quality is the driving force behind healthcare, with providers measured and reimbursed based on that standard. And healthcare quality professionals are at the center of it all.

These dedicated leaders address many issues in the healthcare ecosystem, from patient safety and risk management to core measures and incident management. Moreover, the valuable teams they lead ensure their healthcare facilities meet specific requirements set forth by accrediting bodies, such as The Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

These are not easy tasks. But luckily, some remarkable and readily available technologies support these efforts. We know technology can’t ensure healthcare quality any more than a state-of-the-art power saw and nail gun can ensure a carpenter produces a quality piece of furniture.

While a skilled healthcare professional remains necessary, the right tools can make the job a whole lot easier.

Defining healthcare quality

The Institute of Medicine defines healthcare quality by the following six attributes. As you’ll see, the right technology can help support these initiatives.

1. Safety

Patients should not be harmed while receiving the care that is intended to help them.

A wide array of technologies can help support this effort. For example, clinical decision support software can alert clinicians to potential adverse drug interactions or possible alternate patient diagnoses. Similarly, barcode-based closed-loop medication management (CLMM) systems can ensure the right patient receives the right medication in the right dose via the right route at the right time.

Even a basic technology, such as a robust document management system, can alert key personnel to patient record deficiencies that can negatively impact regulatory compliance and the overall quality of care.

2. Patient-centered

Care delivery must respect and respond to individual patient preferences, needs and values. Furthermore, these values should guide all clinical decisions. To deliver true patient-centered care, it is essential that all clinical stakeholders have a comprehensive view into each patient’s entire medical history. This includes discrete data, clinical documentation and all medical images.

An enterprise content management (ECM) platform and enterprise imaging solution that includes a vendor neutral archive (VNA) and enterprise viewing components can help make all patient information accessible from core clinical platforms, such as an EHR or PACS, providing an informational foundation for patient-centered care.

3. Timely

Reducing wait times and potentially harmful delays for both those who receive and give care has a huge impact on quality.

To ensure timely delivery of care, you can utilize technologies such as tracking systems and automated workflow software. These powerful tools streamline patient traffic and clinical processes by automating manual tasks and accelerating cycle times.

4. Effective

Evidence-based care helps ensure optimal outcomes and avoid both underuse and misuse. Data analytics and technologies for population health management can help clinicians prescribe the most-effective treatments for patients, because these technologies assess the information contained in a patient’s medical record and compare it to treatment plan results of patients with similar profiles.

5. Efficient

Delivering quality care requires reducing waste, including the waste of equipment, supplies, ideas and energy.

There are literally hundreds of technologies focused on reducing waste to deploy in all areas of a hospital. In fact, handling paper is often a source of efficiency breakdown. Intelligent data capture, automated workflow and document management technologies can minimize the costly creation, routing and retention of paper in all areas of the enterprise — from accounts receivable to human resources and health information management departments.

6. Equitable

Care should not vary in quality because of personal characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location and socioeconomic status.

Modern technologies, such as telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, bring the highest levels of care to even the most rural locations. These tools are finally breaking down the physical barriers to care that often prevented true equity in the past.

As you can see, while achieving healthcare quality is more important and challenging than it ever has been, several technologies can help providers manage this challenge. To deliver the best care possible, make sure you are equipping your quality professionals with the tools they need to optimize their impact on the health system and its patients.

* This blog post was originally published on himms.org

Betty Dunagan

Betty Dunagan

Betty Dunagan has been a professional in the Health Information Management arena for more than 38 years. She has worked in acute healthcare settings managing operations, as an independent consultant, and also in the corporate arena as an IT leader for a large integrated delivery system. Betty works for Hyland as a Customer Advisor, where she assists clients with operational process improvement.

2 Responses

  1. Abdul Rehman says:

    Interesting blog, good information given about the technologies, was very useful, thank you for sharing this blog with us.

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