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The role of the quality manager in quality improvement

Updated at: 25 June 2020
Use data to stimulate quality improvements

Table of contents

While the responsibility for patient safety is shared in healthcare facilities or systems, quality managers are trained, front-line professionals who bring an important perspective. Unlike other administrators and clinicians, they regularly gather and analyze data on (near) accidents, enabling them to quickly pinpoint the weak links in care processes, spot trends, and coordinate efforts to intervene when necessary.

This blog further discusses what is important in their function as a specialist in the field of quality.

Read the blog "The role of the manager" for more information about that position.

Use data to stimulate the implementation of quality policy

If every profession has their tools, quality managers’ is current, accurate information. They rely on all stakeholders—providers, staff, patients, and their families—to be their eyes and ears and to report what they, in turn, see and hear. A sound, centralized reporting system is essential and allows quality managers to use data to:

  • discover trends;To analyze data
  • intervene quickly when something goes wrong;
  • gain support at the senior management level;
  • advise specific departments on improvement plans;
  • promote the exchange of knowledge between departments.

It is important to create awareness about safety within the healthcare organization. For this it is important to have insight into the reports about (near) incidents and to communicate about this with employees. It's possible that many reports are made in a short time about one department or work process. Low risk, but still. The number of accidents with a low or very low risk within a certain process can lead to a risk inventory. By identifying risks in the process, improvements can be implemented, which improves patient safety.

Involve everyone in quality thinking

The implementation of a quality management system affects all layers of an organization. As a result, success ultimately requires support from every department and individual. Start by involving employees early in shaping your organization’s approach to quality management. If your program is already established, communicate and train (or retrain) all parties in an effort to create awareness about safety. In your outreach efforts, take into consideration that clinicians and staff are busy, and getting busier every day.  As a result, adding responsibilities around quality can be viewed as an extra burden—but it need not be.  

>> 7 important aspects of quality management

Demonstrate to staff the importance of their role and, to facilitiate buy-in, show them how a seemingly small action that takes little time can make a big difference. Explain the added value of continuous improvement and of having employees influence the implementation of safety and quality measures. Healthcare professionals often know best how processes can be improved. Take time to include them in planning and executing quality improvement efforts to increase the likelihood of success.

Overview of important functions for quality improvement

  • Quality employee
    The employee (department) responsible for quality plays a central role in the preparation and successful implementation of quality management. This professional assists in drafting quality improvement plans, monitors the physical and digital frameworks for the programs, and takes the lead in communicatiing with all parties involved.
  • Manager of an executive department
    The manager is important for ensuring a safe reporting environment and an improvement culture in the executive department. Additional roles he or she fulfills with regard to quality improvement include analyzing reports / dashboards of incidents and near incidents and, together with the team, determining which improvement actions should be given priority.
  • Customers / patients
    Customers / patients contribute to quality improvement efforts by reporting both observable events and less-tangible matters from their unique perspective. To capture their important feedback, instruct them on where and how to report a (near) incident. Use your website and personal conversations with customers / patients to stimulate feedback.
  • Staff members
    In order to create support among employees, it is crucial to communicate the organizational goals and their unique (and varied) roles. Discuss the process for reporting and the result of their contributions. Research shows that an open and safe culture is required before staff will feel comfortable contributing to improving safety and quality in the workplace.
  • Management / Board of Directors
    Senior management determines the goals for quality management and must make the resources available to achieve these goals. Reports and dashboards from the quality management system help to inform management and the board about progress and serve as discussion guides for executive updates. Schedule updates periodically so that the organization can switch quickly if needed to make the best decisions.
  • Safety / Quality / Incidents Committee
    This committee oversees all incidents and can therefore make connections between incidents within a team or across different departments. The professionals on this committee rely on accurate, centralized incident data and reports in order to fulfill their essental role.
  • IT department

    The IT department ensures that there is an accessible platform for digital incident reporting, monitors the system, and ensures that it meets the required standards for security. As a result of the IT department’s need to monitor the system 24/7 and make adjustments quickly in critical situations,  a cloud-based SaaS platform is ideal. This platform type also enables easy updates, backups, and performance optimization.

eBook: How to make the internal business case

Is your organization about to make the transition from paper to digital? Or do you have a digital incident management system, but seek to replace it? Secure buy-in for the tools you need by creating a business case. Download our eBook as a guide.