Healthcare functions only because dedicated staff members work closely together as part of a cohesive team. To ensure the team meets the high standards required for patient care, administrators must implement quality control measures for workers and equipment. The most talented and caring healthcare workers may fail patients if systems are not in place to keep things functioning smoothly.
Administrators can look at all aspects of their organization to identify where quality control measures would be most effective. While every healthcare facility has its own unique needs and challenges, the basic principles of leadership, teamwork and procedural safeguards are common across all industries. Supporting staff and introducing policy measures to maintain quality helps create a safe workplace that is healthy for patients and workers alike. Start with these five suggestions for improved quality control.
1. Create Concrete Processes
Employee intuition and common sense are very important. Healthcare is a human profession by its very nature, and no healthcare employee should feel trapped within strict rules that compromise sensitivity to patients. However, workers should use their discretion only within established processes. Caregivers and patients are both protected by well-conceived processes for quality control.
These procedures serve to provide a baseline of expected actions and activities within the healthcare setting. For example, ward staff might be required to do a thorough cleaning of equipment and rooms every few days. Test results may have to be double-checked by technicians and doctors before discussion with the patient. Depending on your healthcare setting, you can establish protocols that go above and beyond the quality control processes required by your city or state in order to achieve excellence in patient care.
2. Maintain a Clean Work Environment
In addition to protocols about sterilization of equipment and surgical rooms, workers should be encouraged to keep all areas free of hazards. Your workplace probably has an injury and illness prevention program, such as those required by state law, but a healthcare environment that only meets minimal standards is not an optimal workplace.
Create a culture that encourages staff at all levels to avoid spills, pick up equipment parts, and refrain from creating tripping hazards. Reducing clutter also raises the level of professionalism in the workplace, increasing the quality of care. An established procedure for cleaning up spills or removing hazards is an important part of a safety program.
Also see: 7 Tips for Better Delegation
3. Hold Impromptu Equipment Tests
Access to equipment poses unexpected hazards and risks to patients. Even someone who uses a machine daily may still use equipment incorrectly or may have slipped into bad habits that compromise safety. Spot-checking equipment usage helps ensure compliance because employees can anticipate they will, on occasion, have to show they know how to use the technology.
Do tests on small groups of employees at a time, including monitoring of their hands-on use of the equipment in action. Note any deviation from safety protocols or incorrect use. Let employees know if they have made any errors so they have the opportunity to correct them immediately. If it's not possible to run the equipment for the sake of a test, ask employees to describe how they use it.
4. Keep Inventory of Equipment Spare Parts
In many healthcare organizations, equipment is so essential that lives will be at risk if it fails to function. Every quality control program should include an inventory of everything that equipment needs to work at optimal capacity. Workers should know where spare parts are located if they are trained to replace them. If specialized maintenance is required, staff should know whom to contact on an emergency basis to repair equipment. You should establish alternative protocols to keep high levels of patient care when the regular equipment is being fixed.
5. Properly Train Your Managers
Quality control measures mean little if not properly implemented. Your management team is responsible for creating these processes and introducing them in your healthcare organization. This requires great skill at all stages of the QA process. You should hone and support your managers' delegation, coaching, communication and leadership skills through effective training. Management training not only ensures optimization of your QA, but raises the level of excellence of your healthcare team.
To support your managers in becoming adept at their positions, you should invest in management training. Proper systems for management training help establish a solid footing for your healthcare organization. The knowledge, experience and leadership capacities of your management team filter throughout your team. Strong management supports talented employees, as well as those who are struggling, to serve the overall objective of high-quality patient care.
Quality controls help elevate the care at your healthcare organization from adequate to excellent. When patients are referred to your facility, you can point with pride to your quality assurance programs that put a premium on patient and worker safety and optimize the effectiveness of treatment. Get started with your management team by preparing them to provide a new standard of leadership and guidance to your teams. Explore our leadership essential skills course to get started on improving quality control today.