At one point or another, all of us become uses of healthcare, whether it is a routines check-up, on slot from illness or injury. Without much thought or research, it is very easy to understand and explain the quality of care that you received; medical professionals assessed your situation, medicine or medical services are prescribed, and follow-up care is explained. We can see the results, sometimes immediate; other instances require time for internal healing. In worst-case scenarios, quality is measured by helping life to end with less distress.
The question then arises: Is quality in healthcare a black or white picture? The answer is unequivocally no. There are many straightforward and easily identifiable situations where quality in care is obvious. When recuperation is recognized or health is restored, and the patient is satisfied with the road to recovery or end result, quality can be quantified. However, is all care linked only with renewal and contentment?
From the point of view of those working within the healthcare system, there are many other facets that attribute to the improvement of quality and the ability to measure such advances. Without droning through a list of all possible departments and sectors along with the areas where improvements are sought, a more overall structure has been defined that can carry across many divisions. Three fields to measurement are:
- Structural (equipment, facilities, etc.)
- Processes (how the system functions)
- Outcome (final product or result)
As helpful as this information can be, these are only the things to measure, but not the steps to take in order to produce results. Duke University Medical Center has formed a very organized illustration called the FADE Model of quality improvement. This outline identifies the steps that need to taken and how to explore the most effectual processes to improve standards. The FADE Model includes:
- Focus – define/verify what needs to be improved
- Analyze – collect and analyze data to find the root cause of problems and possible solutions
- Develop – use analyzed data to develop a plan to:
- measure or monitor
- Execute – implement the development stage
- Evaluate – install monitoring processes to validate improvements
Understanding where improvements need to be made and analyzing data are both very complicated steps. Most any business would consider a reduction in costs and errors to be stating the obvious. However, finding the inefficiencies may not be as obvious. Outside and unbiased recognition comes in the form of dedicated software, which eliminates guess work by taking collected data from as many sources as possible to produce a complete picture of procedures and events.
This picture defines the areas in need of improvement, and may also provide the answers to questions of root-causes. As much as we might like to believe that problems should be apparent, the truth is some improvements are complex with several outlying factors that contribute to the performance. With analytical data in hand, more quality information is present and the ability to attain better results is achievable.