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What is the purpose of a Quality Management System?

Posted by Bianca Beentjes on January 10 2019
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Purpose 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. Many healthcare institutions choose to digitally process quality indicators, in order to monitor them effectively. However, when purchasing a digital quality management system, it is important to understand why the organisation needs such a system.

By having objectives clear, is also becomes clear as to what requirements the software should meet.

What has triggered the need for a Quality Management System?

Since the end of the last century, there has been a greater focus on improving the safety of care. This was triggered by research into preventable hospital mortality. In order to find answers to improve the safety of care, other sectors, such as petrochemistry and aviation, were secretly observed. See also the blog: "What can the aviation industry teach us about safety in the healthcare sector?"

For quite some time, Shell had already been using a system to manage safety within work processes. Shell was eager to share the experience gained, as the principles of safety management proved universal and deserved to be replicated in the healthcare sector. As a result, a quality management system was developed for the healthcare sector.

A well implemented quality management system allows managers of healthcare institutions to control the risks within departments.

Identify risks and improve processes

A quality management system may serve a wide range of objectives

  1. Achieving organisational objectives
  2. Improving patient/client satisfaction
  3. Cost management by reducing preventable errors
  4. Increasing the organisation’s effectiveness
  5. Improving customer service
  6. Improving the safety culture and risk awareness
  7. Providing insight into performance at individual and team levels

When part of  an organisation’s overall management system, the software shows where safety risks lie within the organisation. This knowledge allows management to take targeted decisions regarding risk priorities.

Preventable errors affect patients or clients. When special attention is paid to safety of care, patient satisfaction will increase and costs can be reduced.

By being aware of preventable and unintentional errors in the care processes, specific measures can be taken to improve care, and thus patient safety and satisfaction. In addition, preventable errors have an impact on a care institution’s finances. By gaining insight into errors, costs can be reduced without having to implement any cutbacks.

Reported incidents give insight into the weak links within the organisation.

Increase the productivity

A quality management system also contributes to process automation. This increases productivity. Tasks and responsibilities, relating to for example analysis and follow-up of incidents, are clear, as such matters are laid down in the quality management system.

When the effectiveness and safety are improved, the institution’s customer service also improves. Assessments of reported incidents and complaints make clear which parts of the customer service can be improved.

Improving the safety culture

A digital quality management system improves the safety culture. Incidents are no longer discussed behind closed doors, but are addressed in teams or committees. As a consequence, health professionals realise that it could have also happened to them. This increases risk awareness.

If most reports are received about a particular department, this does not necessarily always mean the safety of that department is below standard. It also says something about the culture and risk awareness of the department in question.

Incident reports per department, team, process or individual provide insight into which parts of the organisation deserve greater attention. However, if most reports are received about a particular department, this does not necessarily always mean the safety of that department is below standard. It also says something about the culture and risk awareness of the department in question.

Digital Quality Management System, make the 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’.

Business case Quality & Risk Management System

Wendy Rientjes, 2018

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