In today’s health care environment, competition remains high and many organizations are seeking new ways to improve their quality of care, as well as remain competitive with other health care organizations in the process. Various methods exist today for organizations to integrate quality improvement strategies to help in the measurement of performance improvements. This paper will discuss:1) several methodologies, the pros and cons that exist with these methods, 2) describe information technology applications, how they may be used to improve patient falls, 3)discuss how benchmarking and milestones are involved in managing the use of quality indicators, and finally,4) describe how performance and quality measures are aligned to an organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan, and how these measurements align with Self-Regional Hospital’s mission, vision, and strategic plan for improvement.
Methods for Quality Improvement Strategies
Accidental Falls have become the most commonly reported incident in hospitals today, and Self-Regional Hospital is no exception. Recently, Self-Regional researched and gathered specific fall data that included “mobility/gait, lower-extremity strength, history in fractures, visual, or auditory impairments, dizziness, dehydration, depression, stroke, ischemic attacks, and cardiac arrhythmias” and the role they play with patient falls in the organization (The Joint Commission, 2007, p. 26). They are now in the process of researching various methodologies to help manage and improve this area of concern. Several concepts that concern total quality management (TQM), and quality improvement (QI) are offering health care organizations and their administrators the opportunity to decide which methodology would be most successful in improving quality care for their patients. There are three methodologies Self-Regional is considering: 1) Six Sigma, 2) Lean, and 3) Customer Inspired Quality (CIQ). “One of the key components of quality improvement is the technology that gathers and compares the data that the quality improvement measure produces” (Dlugacz, 2006). Once this information has been gathered, the organization can benchmark with other comparable organizations.
The Six Sigma model, pioneered by Motorola, is used to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying, and removing defects through a problem-solving approach that works to improve quality outputs. The Six Sigma methodology achieves this by using a process known as the DMAIC process (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control), for existing quality processes that are below specifications, and are in need of improvement in increments. There are features with Six Sigma that separates it from other initiatives of quality improvement:
* Clear focus on achieving measurable and quantifiable financial returns
* Increased emphasis on strong leadership and support
* Special Infrastructure of “Champions,” to lead and implement the Six Sigma approach
* Clear commitment to making decisions based on verifiable data, rather than assuming or guess work (Harry, 2000).
The second model is Lean, which played a key role for Toyota’s success. This method is used to help reduce or alleviate waste, while working to improve an organization’s performance through their workflow processes. Organization’s that use Lean have a clear understanding of consumer value, and continuously will focus on the key processes to improve it. Their goal is to provide excellent value to the consumer, by developing an excellent value process that has zero waste. Lean offers the organization the opportunity to identify steps in a quality improvement process, and then identify the steps that are valuable and non-valuable. Once the non-valued steps have been identified they will be removed to prevent waste in the process (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2009).