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The manager's role for quality improvement in healthcare

Updated at: 5 March 2024
The manager's role in improving the quality of care

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The role of leadership for quality improvement in healthcare

Department managers occupy an essential role in continuous quality improvement in healthcare. They support the quality manager by communicating information about quality and safety initiatives to their teams. They lead implementation efforts within their departments, and their role is central to proactively monitoring the progress of such improvements. Along with the board and other team leaders, managers ensure that quality remains atop the organization’s agenda.

This blog focusses on the important aspects of a manager's role for quality improvement in healthcare. If you are looking for more information regarding the quality managers role, please read our blog "The role of the quality manager."

Keep quality on the agenda using incident reports

The quality management function, whether led by an individual or the board, must maintain a constant overview of the entire organization, know where potential gaps lie, and follow-up with departments that require coaching. In doing so, department managers are heavily relied up to aid in facilitating and coaching teams toward the provision of safe, high-quality care.

The manager's role in quality improvement

Incident reports function as indicators and help managers maintain quality improvement as an agenda item. When a (near) incident is reported, it not only alerts the manager to a risk area that requires analysis, it presents a learning opportunity for the entire organization.

Often employees are aware of risks, but in practice fall short of avoiding them, unintentionally making errors and causing harm. For example, they may inadvertently use unapproved instruments or fail to use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as protective glasses or face masks. It’s the manager’s role to ensure that there is adequate supervision and/or instruction to prevent such gaps.

>> 7 important elements of quality management

If (near) incidents do occur, managers can help to avoid silos whereby errors are repeated. Discuss incidents and resulting improvement actions organization wide. Staff will learn that incidents can happen to anyone, and the insights and experiences of others will create a better picture of the causes and possible remedies for improvement. Become a learning organization that creates support for the quality manager in helping employees work on safe behavior.

Managers increase job satisfaction among healthcare employees

Valuable employees want to enjoy their work and do a good job, and it’s management’s responsibility to provide the right circumstances to make this possible. Psychologist Barbara Frederickson, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discovered that aiding employees in becoming high performers is not about reducing their workload, but about increasing job satisfaction and enthusiasm. By focusing on matters that motivate employees, managers help staff to deliver their best performance and positively contribute to quality, safety, reimbursement, and customer satisfaction goals.

Research also shows that enthusiastic people are optimistic, have high self-esteem, and are effective at tasks like planning and organizing. These characteristics increase job satisfaction and protect people from stress, which also reduces absenteeism. Committed and enthusiastic employees make an important contribution to the success of the organization. They recognize what can be done differently to make the care process more efficient, and seek to help the organization by using their unique perspective on patient (customer) focus. Their presence is important in an environment that often changes quickly .

Inspiration is a state of mind that arises when people:

  1. Are dedicated to their work because it contributes to the common higher purpose;
  2. Perform work they enjoy and thus are absorbed in it;
  3. Positively affect those around them as a result of their passion and commitment.

How can healthcare managers motivate others?

Research shows that the way managers motivate employees matters. Key strategies for success include:

  • enabling employees to work autonomously;
  • providing clear frameworks for processes; and
  • appealing to employees' sense of responsibility.

Provide resources to motivate employees!

There is a positive relationship between work-related resources and employees’ enthusiasm toward work. Job satisfaction increases when managers provide support in the form of:

  • intrinsic motivation
  • development opportunities
  • social support from direct management and colleagues
  • social support in private
  • independence
  • feedback
  • participation
  • communication (consultation, open conversation with each other )

Providing healthcare employees with access to the above resources can lead to more motivation and enthusiasm. So if you want better motivated employees as an organization, provide more resources!

>> Learn more in our blog '6 tips for motivating employees to help improve the quality of care'.

Encourage training and personal growth among employees

Healthcare managers help employees by making them aware of unconscious behaviors that jeopardize safety. For example, during an audit one hospital found that a large percentage of its nurses didn’t realize that when preparing and administering high-risk medication, such as parenterals, the worksheet they used must be disinfected. Once they were made aware that their actions created an unsafe environment, they were able to correct their behavior and ensure compliance.

But a manager’s role goes beyond process and protocol corrections. Professional and personal development of individual employees is crucial to fostering collective competences at the team level, such as cooperation, feedback, and communication. Managers can use both in-person instruction and e-learning to test whether the employee is exhibiting the proper knowledge and follow-through of safety measures. The advantage of e-learning (coupled with good documentation of procedures) is that it often expedites the training of new employees on safety and quality.

Regardless of the training method used, communicate new or changed procedures directly with all team members and other affected staff. Use all available communication channels—e-mail, a notification via the intranet, a departmental meeting—to reinforce the message .

eBook: Staff Commitment

Read more about how to intrinsically engage employees to report incidents and contribute to improving care quality. Download our eBook Staff Commitment.

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Using a quality management system in healthcare

Healthcare organizations implement a quality management system to oversee and assess the quality of care provided, enhance efficiency by refining current procedures through quality enhancement, comply to regulatory and accreditation requirements, bolster quality assurance efforts, and enhance patient satisfaction across the board. If you are interested to find out how to successfully implement a digital quality management system in healthcare than please read our Business Case: “How to implement a Quality Management System in healthcare?