Quality Corner, v1.4
How do we improve quality?
All imaging departments are expected to establish and maintain effective quality, safety, and performance improvement programs. The initial step is the gathering of relevant information, followed by the collection and analysis of quality and performance data; analysis and ranking of causes that likely contributed to a process failure, error, or adverse event; and prioritization and local implementation of solutions, with careful monitoring of newly implemented processes and wider dissemination of the tools when a process proves to be successful.
Quality improvement requires a careful, dedicated, and continuously planned effort by a number of skilled and committed team members, with the goal being to do the right thing in a timely fashion in every case. This process can be sustained by offering rewards and celebrating successes, with all lessons learned disseminated throughout the department or organization. Quality improvement is an umbrella term that includes (a) quality assurance programs for continuous improvement in quality; (b) processes to improve staff and patient safety; and (c) procedures to improve the clinical, technical, and diagnostic performance of all staff.
Quality improvement requires a careful, dedicated, and continuously planned effort by a number of skilled and committed team members, with the goal being to do the right thing in a timely fashion in every case.
Quality improvement is intended for use by individuals, healthcare teams, or healthcare systems to improve the care delivered to patients. In radiology, the focus of quality improvement is to improve the performance of and processes related to diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, the selection of imaging and procedural services, the quality and safety of healthcare delivered, and the effectiveness and management of all imaging services.
Institutional Leadership and Support
Leaders send the message that all quality-related efforts are valued and constitute a central component of the institution’s mission. This important message is enhanced by tangible support, the provision of human resources, and acknowledgment of efforts and successes.
Just Culture for Quality and Safety
This describes an environment in which staff members feel comfortable disclosing errors, including their own, without fear of punitive actions. Whereas many traditional healthcare cultures hold individuals accountable for all errors, a just culture recognizes that individual practitioners are not accountable for system failings over which they have no control. A Just Culture recognizes that even competent professionals make mistakes but does not tolerate disregard for risks to patients or misconduct. Such a culture should minimize fear among participants and should identify and introduce proactive, rather than reactive, monitoring processes.
Process for Managing Customer Relations
It is important to identify and talk with one’s “customers,” both those within and those outside one’s organization. These customers include patients as well as referring physicians and third-party payers, among others. It is important to establish processes whereby customer feedback can be collected, analyzed, and effectively managed. It is also important to involve customers in quality improvement efforts and to try to gauge their needs. In addition, it is essential to respond to their feedback to show that their opinions are valued.