With healthcare changing at a breakneck speed; it is necessary for healthcare providers to keep pace with it. Healthcare activities keep changing at the drop of a hat, making it imperative for healthcare providers to come up with action plans for being prepared to absorb all the changes. For this to happen, they need to put a healthcare process improvement plan in place. Implementing a process driven approach is of paramount importance, because no other system works as well. A healthcare process improvement plan is essentially about putting processes in place in the healthcare chain, so that even in the absence of particular individual or with a change in the system; the process goes about unaffected.
The importance and criticality of processes was laid by the well-known expert, Dr. Williams Edwards Deming. The principles he enunciated for the automobile sector can be adapted for the healthcare system in toto. Taking the cue from his principles and placing them in another context, we can approach healthcare process improvement from these standpoints:
Healthcare process improvement is at the root of quality:If there is one principle that practitioners of quality need to get drilled into their brain, it is the understanding that quality improvement begins and ends with process management. Although Deming formulated these principles decades ago; they are as relevant today, even in a technologically far more advanced environment. Like all other sectors, the healthcare sector too, is an agglomeration of several processes. The healthcare provider needs to integrate and coordinate the whole chain in the right measure to bring about healthcare process improvement.
Healthcare process improvement is measurable:Anything that is not data driven is considered useless. That is what the FDA has led the healthcare industry into believing and practicing. Whatever one wants to present has to be backed by data, without which it becomes only a trash of paper. The data has to be generated properly, in the right format, using the right inputs and should be delivered to the most appropriate person for the best result. Each player in the chain needs to have thorough knowledge of the work needed from each.
Healthcare process improvement is about managed care:This is another fundamental principle of healthcare process improvement. Managed care is not about regulating the caregivers; it is about regulating the processes. All the players and participants in the caregiving chain -right from the data entry operator to the physician -have to be part of a process, and the work of each has to be traceable and tracked and held accountable. This is the hallmark of healthcare process improvement.