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    The main criteria for selecting a quality management system

    Last modified: December 9 2019

    The number of quality management software packages available is huge. There are many things you need to take into account in your search for an appropriate quality management system.

    The functionality provided varies widely. However, functionality should not be the only driving force when selecting appropriate software. Industry experience, software flexibility, possibilities for integration with other software, configuration management and visibility of management data are equally important when considering the right supplier. But how do you determine the appropriate criteria?

    main criteria for selecting a quality management system

    This blog describes the main criteria for selecting a digital quality management system:

    • Industry experience
    • Flexibility
    • Look and feel
    • Reporting: Data visibility
    • Scalability
    • Integration capabilities
    • Implementation

    A modern quality management system can highlight problems in care processes and thereby significantly contribute to improving the quality of care. A proper quality management software is therefore an important link to achieve improvements in the quality cycle. From reporting incidents and complaints to continuous improvement. It is important that the software can be easily brought in line with existing (but also future) business processes. For doing so a number of criteria can be defined:

    Industry experience

    Quality and patient safety are of paramount importance to care institutions. In order to provide good quality care, it is important to comply with regulatory standards prescribed by the inspectorate, health insurance companies, or accreditation processes. In many cases, quality management software specially designed for the healthcare sector is therefore the best option. Choose a software supplier with extensive experience within health care.

    >> Read more about how to improve quality in healthcare.

    Flexibility

    When searching for an adequate system, care institutions will often opt for a system that offers the greatest degree of functionality. But is this what the care institution actually needs? Software flexibility is probably the core functionality for the system’s ability to adapt to existing processes. Flexible enough to change and improve as processes change and improve.

    Most software suppliers build their systems around a generic, best practice approach that cannot be amended without a considerable investment in time and cost. This forces the care institution to adapt existing processes and practices to the software, rather than vice versa.

    It adversely affects the efficiency when existing processes must be redesigned to fit within the limitations of the software system. You should therefore not compromise, but opt for the software solution that is truly flexible and configurable, including workflow, forms, fields, reports, process organization, etc. Configuration should be easy for non-technical administrators, who have no programming skills. Graphical tools such as drag & drop functionality enable administrators to implement basic system configurations themselves without requiring supplier involvement.

    Careful and well-considered attention for the software’s flexibility is key to any successful project!

    Look and Feel

    One of the most commonly overlooked problems at the time of selecting software is the possibility to provide the system with the look and feel of the organization. The possibility to change colors, logos, fonts, general layout, forms and reports, is often considered a side issue.

    Many systems offer a certain degree of configurability, but usually it doesn’t apply to layouts. Use a set of clearly defined requirements regarding the user interface. This ensures that the system can meet these requirements without having to do extensive development. The possibility to manage aspects of user interfaces helps end users to accept the software. User buy-in is one the main contributors to successful software implementation. 

    Reporting: Data visibility

    Huge amounts of data are gathered through a quality management system. Nevertheless, it appears to be extremely difficult to identify trends and obtain insights into the data. Users have to manually filter the data or even export the results to an external system in order to prepare reports. This is unnecessarily time-consuming.

    Most software systems offer search functionalities. The availability of search functions, however, is often not enough. The system should not only be able to search at the highest level, but also for multiple criteria or even in attachments that are enclosed.

    At the same time data can be reported in many different ways. Many software suppliers use third-party tools to better understand the data, although only with limited integration between the two systems. Others will incorporate reporting tools straight into their product, leading to a more integrated method to extract data from different records within the system. Choose a software supplier who enables quality control staff to conduct searches and generate reports themselves. This makes the care institution less dependent on the software supplier and this saves time and money.

    Scalability

    When selecting a software system consider the care institution’s long-term goals. There may not be an immediate need, but it pays off for a care institution to consider the possible desire to extend the quality management system to cover other facilities, transmural care, or applications in the future. Some systems will claim scalability, but do not have actual experience with this matter.

    Obviously, a scalable system must have the technical capability to handle the burden of additional users and data. It is more expensive to correct this at a later stage if this has not been considered in advance. Therefore, look for client references who have scaled the system to a level equal to your care institution. In doing so, you should take into account the possibility to delegate management to different levels within the organization, throughout the entire company. Truly scalable systems offer functionality that goes beyond the simple management of different user groups. Examples may include location-specific configurations and dynamic filtering of location-specific data.

    Integration capabilities

    Healthcare organizations no longer operate in silos when it comes to mutual cooperation between systems. Whether it concerns patient files, financial systems or quality systems, the possibility for interactivity, collaboration and cooperation is essential to reveal weaknesses within processes. It is therefore of great importance that quality management systems can be integrated with existing systems. When selecting a system, you should therefore consider the available integration options.  Avoid solutions that claim integration, but only offer basic integration of information input. Although this is a powerful tool and to a certain extent eliminates duplication of data entry, genuine integration will not only draw data from systems, but are also able to send data back to those systems.

    Implementation

    Once the care institution has purchased the software, the most important part begins. The solution has to be implemented. This is the point where software projects often fail. Recent research shows that 71% of over 9,000 software implementations failed, took too long or exceeded the budget. 

    It is of crucial importance that the software supplier can demonstrate that the solution cannot only be delivered on time and within budget, but that it is also done in a way that allows the care institution to use the system the way they want to use it, with all your configurations and best practices installed.

    The care institution should therefore opt for a solution with a proven implementation method that consists of mapping out requirements, side by side collaboration with the people from the project team, and stick to the agreed project scope. And ultimately, always make sure that all stakeholders within your organization have had the possibility to contribute to the needs assessment phase. This will ensure that all parties are satisfied prior to the implementation phase. 

    Download the eBook: RFI Quality Management System

    Do you want to learn more about how to write a Request for Information for a digital quality management system? Click here to download the eBook. You can use the eBook as a guide to write your own RFI/RFP. You can also use it to assess if TPSC Cloud™ may be a suitable system for your own organization.

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