Most people may not associate quality assurance with healthcare. It's widely perceived to be related to manufacturing, the work that quality inspectors do when products are rolling off the production line in front of them.
That's actually better described as quality control since that task is product oriented. Quality assurance is related to the requirements and goals for a service. Since healthcare is a service, it stands to benefit immensely from meticulous measurement of key metrics for the improvement of processes.
Quality assurance in healthcare encompasses the activities and series of measures that are designed to ensure continuous improvement in the quality of medical care. Custom software solutions play a big part in this, since they automate tracking of metrics which can be analyzed to identify problems with care delivery. Quality assurance in healthcare is a vital component of the industry.
Such programs not only improve the clinical outcomes but also help increase staff engagement. Team members have actionable data to base their input on so a collective effort can be undertaken to improve the organization's overall standing.
There are several factors that influence the quality of patient care. The importance of delivering quality patient care is intertwined with the economic success of a healthcare organization. The improvement efforts may include internal audits, independent performance audits, consumer reports, outcomes analysis, and customer satisfaction surveys.
Here are some ways healthcare maintains quality assurance:
In the United States, quality assurance in healthcare is a means to track the effectiveness of the medical organizations that provide it. The organizations' performance is constantly measured to ensure a high quality of healthcare.
The inability to provide meaningful clinical statistics is rapidly being tied to lower reimbursement levels. That's why healthcare organizations are investing resources into robust quality assurance processes. This allows them to meet patient expectations and also figure out what changes need to be made in order to improve the quality of healthcare for patients and their level of satisfaction.
There are two major nonprofit groups that track quality assurance in healthcare, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Healthcare organizations seek these accreditations to quantify their quality assurance for the public.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
The JCAHO accreditation is recognized by a majority of state governments in the United States as a pre-condition for receiving Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. The nonprofit organization accredits more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States.
A major component of its accreditation process is the unannounced full survey in which the healthcare organization is not informed in advance of its survey date. All member organizations go through a three-year accreditation cycle and while they survey findings are not publicly revealed, the accreditation decision is made public. Any and all standards that were cited for improvement are revealed as well.
After the survey, healthcare organizations that are found to be in compliance of all or most of the standards receive the decision of Accreditation. The organizations have to be in compliance of the standards at least four months before the initial survey and have to remain in compliance during the entire accreditation period.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance provides voluntary accreditation for both medical organizations and health plans. More than 70 percent of Americans with health insurance happen to be in plans accredited by the NCQA.
Its Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set evaluation system relies on a set of performance measures to track quality assurance. The NCQA designed it to give consumers the ability to compare the performance of different health plans in light of regional or national benchmarks.
It measures six primary domains of care which include:
- Effectiveness of Care
- Access/Availability of Care
- Experience of Care
- Utilization and Relative Resource Use
- Health Plan Descriptive Information
- Measures Collected Using Electronic Clinical Data Systems
Quality assurance software makes a huge difference in healthcare.
The use of quality assurance software in healthcare can go a long way in reducing the number of mistakes that can be caused by human factors. It also makes it easier to identify the processes that need to be improved in order to raise the overall quality of patient care.
It can help make the lives of both patients and staff easier and safer. That being said, quality assurance programs also require rigorous security testing. Medical data is highly confidential and any vulnerability left unchecked is a disaster waiting to happen.
Healthcare organizations that deploy such software also need to make sure that it works flawlessly. Any mistake can put patients' lives at risk. Rigorous software testing helps reduce technical errors and keeps the possibility of system failures at bay.
Another crucial aspect of a quality assurance program is to figure out the root cause of errors and then coming up with protocols to reduce and prevent them. Quality assurance software can be deployed in both internal and patient-facing systems to figure out where improvements need to be made.
Testing internal systems for healthcare facilities
Most healthcare facilities tend to have multiple departments and it's vital for all of the interconnected IT systems to work flawlessly. A single fault at any point can deal a fatal blow to the entire infrastructure and with human lives on the line, that's an outcome best avoided.
The quality assurance process should thus involve thorough testing of the software to ensure that it works on all platforms that are deployed in the organization. Digital patient record systems need to be put through rigorous security testing to ensure that no vulnerabilities exist that could be exploited to obtain access to confidential patient records.
You also need to conduct recovery testing on medical record systems so that in the event of a system failure, the medical records are not lost. This is a great way of figuring out how the system handles very data-intensive tasks and how long it may take for it to recover if it breaks down.
Test patient-facing systems
Most patients prefer tracking their treatment and this can be made possible through patient-facing portals that allow them to view their medication history as well all of their medical records with that organization. The portal can also be used for viewing and paying medical bills in addition to making new appointments.
Another crucial component of the patient-facing system is remote patient monitoring. It can leverage the Internet of Things technology to enable patients with serious chronic conditions to easily measure their blood pressure and sugar levels.
The feedback loop in custom quality assurance software can be utilized to find out what patients think about the portal. Whether they feel it's easy enough to understand and use or if they feel that the portal is too complicated to understand. Enhanced usability testing of the portal will uncover areas where improvements can be made so that the portal becomes more user-friendly and visually appealing.
Build custom quality assurance software for your healthcare organization.
It's vital for healthcare organizations to have custom quality assurance software in place so as to constantly improve the quality of patient care. Such a program won't yield any results if the staff doesn't interact with the system or adapt their performance based on the information found in the reports.
Keeping a close eye on the performance indicators will help the management and staff ensure that their quality assurance program produces the desired results and that the benchmarks are met. Corrective strategies can then be implemented which may include better staff training, equipment updates, infrastructure changes, and more.
A hospital quality assurance software helps respond to problems in a clinical environment. It's developed to overcome these problems through compliance with the best practices in patient care. Software for the healthcare industry is widely considered to be safety-critical and is subject to higher control procedures than general purpose software.
Given the highly sensitive nature of medical data, it’s vital that your custom quality assurance software is developed by a trustworthy vendor. Any mishandling of patient data could put your entire organization at risk so it’s always best to go with a trusted vendor.
Healthcare organizations are increasingly at risk of being targeted with ransomware attacks. So it’s more important than ever to have software in place that has been rigorously tested for vulnerabilities.
The team at Zibtek is highly experienced with building custom quality assurance software for healthcare organizations. It’s based in the United States, with a truly global network of specialists that are all managed from the US.
Its expert test engineers strive to ensure that all deliverables meet the most rigid quality standards. The dedicated quality assurance teams can perform both scripted and manual testing services for healthcare organizations.
Contact Zibtek today to schedule a consultation and find out how they can help elevate your organization's quality assurance program.