The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a national challenge for health system staff who work in quality and safety.
These workers are tasked with assessing issues and implementing improvement strategies in a wide range of areas, such as reducing surgical site infections and readmissions, ensuring smooth transitions to post-acute care, and boosting communication between staff and patients.
But some responsibilities have fallen by the wayside during the public health crisis, as quality-focused employees have left organizations or been tapped to help with care delivery. The ensuing gap in expertise could lead to lower quality scores—which affect federal funding—and cause health systems to miss out on potential savings.
“The ability of healthcare organizations to sustain their overall performance and clinical care quality, safety and efficiency has been tested by the degree of turnover and short staffing,” said Dr. Read Pierce, chief of the hospital medicine division and associate chair for faculty development and well-being at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.
To strengthen quality efforts, health systems are using data and external frameworks to identify organizational areas for improvement; creating systems that better support quality management; and investing resources into employees’ ongoing professional development.