MANAGING QUALITY ASSURANCE IN HEALTHCARE 8
ManagingQuality Assurance in Healthcare
ManagingQuality Assurance in Healthcare
TheUnited States of America has witnessed an explosive growth in thehealthcare sector, particularly in the number of organizations thatprovide and manage healthcare delivery. Based on this trend, it isprojected that the sector will grow substantially by the year 2022,subsequently creating many jobs (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,2013). Much as this suggests good news especially for the economy, itis worth noting that the explosive growth comes with a fair share ofchallenges for the government and healthcare providers. According toCarnevale et al. (2012), the rapid growth in healthcare is matched byan equally rapid increase in demand for healthcare services, whichmay compromise the quality of care as clinicians find themselvesconfronted by a huge workload. For this reason, it is important thatthe government works in collaboration with relevant stakeholders toidentify strategies and mechanisms that will help ensure qualityhealthcare amid this expansive growth. This essay presents the bestpractices that the U.S. as a country should adopt in order to managequality in the healthcare industry while at the same time providingexceptional employment to qualified personnel in order to ensure thatthe kind of service delivered is of the highest standard.
Accordingto the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2012), one of thestrategies that are helpful in managing quality assurance within thehealthcare sector is shared decision-making, which simply refers to acollaborative procedure wherein healthcare decisions are made jointlyby clinicians and patients. This kind of collaboration is useful asit utilizes the scientific knowledge possessed by clinicians,combining it with the values as well as preferences of patients inorder to determine the most appropriate intervention. Therecommendation of engaging patients in the creation of care plans issupported by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (n.d.),especially when viewed from the perspective that patients can onlyfollow the advice of a doctor when they understand their conditionand the various alternatives that are open to them. In short, this isto say that one way of ensuring quality and high standards inhealthcare delivery, amid the explosive growth, is to engage patientsin devising care plans.
Thereis a high possibility that in a bid to meet the increasing demand forservices, clinicians may commit medical errors. As Carnevale et al.(2012) report, demand for healthcare surpasses the resources that areavailable. This has created overload within healthcare organizations,thus compromising the quality of care that is provided to patients.With insufficient resources, the frequency of medication errors isbound to be high. However, the truth is that most medication errorsare caused by faulty processes (Hughes, 2008). To correct this, it isstrongly recommended that the government should make sure that everyhealthcare facility has access to, and utilizes computerized machinesand other electronic tools in the delivery of care. Precisely, theNational Committee for Quality Assurance (n.d) recommends thathealthcare organizations should switch to electronic recordkeepingtogether with other information technology systems, which have provedeffective in minimizing medical errors.
Concerningthe need to embrace information technology in enhancing quality inhealthcare, it might be worthwhile to borrow a leaf from successfulfirms such as Wal-Mart together with Toyota. Cutler (2010) observesthat Wal-Mart was the pioneer of automated processes and thattechnology has helped the company to provide quality services andproducts to its customers. This is principally because thetechnological processes and tools help the company to identify themost crucial tasks and the persons competent to perform such tasks,as well as the procedure of executing those tasks with the highestpossible degree of efficiency. Borrowing from this example, it wouldbe beneficial for healthcare providers in the U.S. to embraceinformation technology, as this would help them to forecast thecritical steps that ensure efficient provision of care.
Besidesembracing information technology, it is very crucial for thegovernment to collaborate with various research organizations toensure that the practices followed in healthcare settings areup-to-date. There are many research networks that have beenestablished with the aim of improving the quality of the healthcaresystem. One such network is the Integrated Delivery System ResearchNetwork (IDSRN), which comprises nine partners drawn from differentorganizations. The Network conducts research that has proved usefulin responding to patients in a timely, effective manner (Ortiz &Clancy, 2003).
Inasmuchas outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama enacted Obamacare, whichtargets to make healthcare affordable to people from the low-incomecategory, one of the observations that have been made regarding thehealthcare system in the U.S. is that quality is not given muchattention. To be more precise, it is argued that the kind of carecurrently available in the U.S. is not patient-centered. This hasgiven rise to a scenario where users pay for the brand, rather thanthe quality of service rendered (Carnevale et al., 2012). At the sametime, plans such as Medicaid together with Medicare have been faultedfor encouraging a trend where patients frequent healthcare facilitiesnot because of the quality services that they get, but in order toutilize the financial support offered by the government (McClellan,2013).
Inresponse to the above challenges, it is proposed that the governmentand other stakeholders emphasize the delivery of person-centeredcare. For example, the government could review the Medicare programsuch that all reimbursements are made depending on the quality ofcare given at the personal level. To achieve this, McClellan (2013)recommends that the government should enforce diagnosis-related groupmodels of payments. In addition to this, healthcare providers wouldbecome keener on quality if the incoming government upholds thepractice of levying penalties on hospitals that have a habit ofreadmitting patients frequently.
Ona different growth, the explosive growth that is currently beingwitnessed in the healthcare sector has the implication that the U.Smight soon be facing a shortage of healthcare workers if urgentmeasures are not taken. This has already been predicted by Carnevaleet al. (2012), who state that the increasing demand for healthcareservices will double the demand for clinicians in the coming years.In fact, the authors project that the demand for qualified healthcareprofessionals will grow “nearly twice as fast as the nationaleconomy” (p. 4). With such a prediction, it is evident that thegovernment must do something to ensure that there is an adequateworkforce to meet the demands of healthcare.
Whilstacknowledging that employment creation is a challenge for manygovernments, there are several strategies that the U.S. as a countrycould implement in order to provide exceptional employmentopportunities in the healthcare industry, thus responding effectivelyto the growing demand. For instance, it might be productive toemulate the strategy utilized by the healthcare department inMaryland. In Maryland, a partnership by the name Health Care CareersAlliance has been formed between leading hospitals in Baltimore andthe Urban Service Corps. This partnership prepares young peoplebetween the age of 18 and 21 years to execute entry-level jobs withinthe healthcare sector. To be more specific, beneficiaries are givenjob training, after which they are placed on the internship in thepartner hospitals. Once they complete their internship, theparticipants are employed on a full-time basis (U.S. Department ofLabor Employment and Training Administration, 2010).
Inconclusion, the expansion of the healthcare sector signals growth inthe U.S. economy, precisely due to the increased demand forhealthcare services. An additional implication of this growth is thatqualified healthcare professionals are likely to find employment.Even so, the growth in demand produces negative implications onquality and patient safety. A key finding obtained in this paper isthat unless the government provides adequate resources and personnelto handle the increased demand, medication errors are bound to becomemore prevalent. This is just one illustration of the impacts that arelikely to be generated on healthcare quality due to the explosivegrowth. In order to address such issues, several recommendations havebeen made, include collaboration between patients and cliniciansextensive, ongoing research, and use of information technology.
Agencyfor Healthcare Research and Quality. (2012). AHRQ`sNational Quality Measures Clearinghouse is a public resource forsummaries of evidence-based quality measures and measure sets. NQMCalso hosts the HHS Measures Inventory.Retrieved from << https://www.qualitymeasures.ahrq.gov/>>on 16 December 2016.
Carnevale,A., Smith, N., Gulish, A. & Beach, B. (2012). Healthcareexecutive summary.Available at <<https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Healthcare.ExecutiveSummary.090712.pdf>>on 16 December 2016.
Cutler,D. M. (2010). Howstates can improve the health care system.Retrieved from <<https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/reports/2010/09/17/8347/how-states-can-improve-the-health-care-system/>>on 16 December 2016.
HughesR. G. (2008). Tools and Strategies for Quality Improvement andPatient Safety. In: R.G. Hughes, (ed.). PatientSafety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses.Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US):Chapter 44.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2682/
McClellan,M. B. (2013). Improving health care quality: the path forward.Retrieved from <<https://www.brookings.edu/testimonies/improving-health-care-quality-the-path-forward/>>on 16December2016.
Mosadeghrad,A. M. (2014). Factors influencing healthcare service quality.InternationalJournal of Health Policy and Management,3(2),77–89.
NationalCommittee for Quality Assurance. (n.d.). Theessential guide to healthcare quality.Retrieved from <<http://www.ncqa.org/portals/0/publications/resource%20library/ncqa_primer_web.pdf>>on 16 December 2016.
Ortiz,E. & Clancy, C. M. (2003). Use of Information Technology toImprove the Quality of Health Care in the United States. HealthServices Research,38(2),xi–xxii.
U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics. (December 2013). Industryemployment and output projections to 2022.Retrieved from <<https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2013/article/industry-employment-and-output-projections-to-2022.htm>> on 16 December 2016.
U.S.Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. (2010).Howto develop programs for youth in allied health centers.Retrieved from <<https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/ten/ten2010/ten10-10a1.pdf>> on 16 December 2016.