What is meant by a quality management system?
Quality Management System, a nice-to-have or necessity? To answer this question we first need to make clear what we understand by a quality management system. The quality management system forms part of an institution’s overall management system and aims to improve patient safety, and hence the quality of care. This should ultimately lead to a maximum reduction of preventable errors in healthcare.
When purchasing a quality management system, it is important to understand why the organisation needs such a system.
Most health and welfare institutions have designed processes to guarantee and improve quality and safety. However, in many organisations responsibility is divided between different parts of the organisation; between different departments; between different staff members.
When responsibility is divided between different parts of the organisation, the organisation has not a clear view of where the risks lie.
A digital quality management system provides the tools to identify the risks within the institution and to address them in a holistic manner. Activities are managed centrally, so the organisation knows what actions are taken, when, and by whom.
Components of a quality management system
It is important to involve the right professionals when making decisions about which components to include in a quality management system.
In most healthcare institutions, a quality management system combines the following methodologies and indicators to identify risks:
- Retrospective risk analysis: “What went wrong?” Safe incident reporting and incident analysis.
- Prospective risk analysis: “What can go wrong?” Analysing care processes before an incident occurs. Care processes include all actions to be performed in order to meet a patient’s healthcare needs, from the first contact with the healthcare facility until discharge.
- Complaints from patients, clients or their relatives
- OHS incidents
- Employee satisfaction
- Safety culture
- Improvement action tracking system
A well-equipped quality management system includes those tools that enable the healthcare institution to monitor and improve quality.
Benefits of a quality management system
To be able to identify risks, implement improvements and record, evaluate and adjust policy, a good quality management system cannot be missed. It offers the following advantages in improving the safety culture and improving care processes:
- Staff becomes more aware of the risks within the organization. They are the ones that need to report incidents (and other kinds of events) to fill the system.
- The events reported are analyzed and improvement actions are initiated. By sharing lessons learned, staff will learn from each other quickly.
- The Management and Board have a clear perception of the risks within the organization and know how to prioritize these risks.
- By having a quality management system in place, the organization has a systematic approach towards reducing and preventing risks that could harm patients and staff.
Digital Quality Management System, the internal business case
Is your organisation about to transition from a paper-based to a digital workplace? Or does the organisation already have a digital quality management system, but wants to replace it? In both cases it is advisable to develop a business case.
The business case describes the purpose of the project and provides insight into costs and benefits. A clear business case ensures involvement and improves the chances of successful implementation.
Do you want to know more about writing a business case for a digital quality management system? Download the ebook ‘Digital Quality Management System, the internal business case’.
Wendy Rientjes, 2018