Patient safety isn’t just good for patients, it’s also good for a hospital’s bottom line. According to the World Health Organization, improving patient safety leads to significant financial savings as well as better patient outcomes. Main Line Health, a non-profit healthcare organization serving Philadelphia and its suburbs, has focused its efforts on improving patient safety, and the results speak for themselves. One of their hospitals, Paoli Hospital, even has a coveted 5-star Medicare rating in 2020.
Eileen Jaskuta, system vice president of quality and patient safety, shares four ways Main Line Health’s patient safety and quality improvement efforts are enhancing their patients’ overall experience.
1. Making safety the top priority
Main Line Health’s top core value is patient safety, says Jaskuta, and it supports one of the organization’s guiding principles, which is to eliminate harm — both for patients and employees. “We’d also like to be a top performer in all areas of quality, we’d like care to be affordable for our patients, and we would like it to be equitable,” adds Jaskuta.
By focusing on these guiding principles, she says, “you can help people see where they can make improvements. People can rally around what they can do to make an impact.”
2. Creating workgroups to identify needs and make changes
The organization uses targeted meetings and workgroups to ensure needs are being addressed at all levels. “We have dyadic leaders who attend the macro system group meeting and then run those same meetings at their campuses,” says Jaskuta. “We also have a system clinical ops meeting, which is an executive level grouping of dyadic leaders that talk about barriers people are facing.”
“I’m a dyadic leader of the emergency department work group, and I often attend the system meetings to ensure we’re all moving in the same direction,” she says. Conversely, smaller clinical environment workgroups allow her to receive feedback from the ground up. “Information bubbles up from the microsystems, so you can find opportunities that you didn’t identify.”
These workgroups also allow leaders to understand when a one-size-fits-all approach requires modifications. “We’d like to deploy things across the system, but we recognize we have individual campuses and logistically things may be different. Your layout could be different, or we might be asking you to do something that’s not workable in your environment. We want to hear about those things so we can make approved variations,” says Jaskuta.
3. Using data to identify areas of improvement
Main Line Health uses a variety of measurements and methodologies to ensure their safety strategies are working. “Every report starts with data,” says Jaskuta. “We measure all of our work on quality and safety using STEEEP dashboards,” which focus on the six domains of healthcare quality (Safe, Timely, Effective, Efficient, Equitable, and Patient-Centered Care).
Each area of the organization has its own STEEEP dashboard, says Jaskuta. “Safety is paramount to the dashboards. We’re looking to ensure a balanced approach to how we provide care across the organization, with support from a variety of people. We make sure those teams are staffed with someone from IT, analytics, a process improvement engineer, and representation from the campuses.”
The organization also uses several quality improvement methodologies to increase its effectiveness. “We’re committed to DMAIC to define how we’re going to do our work,” says Jaskuta, adding that they also use elements of the Lean Methodology and other rapid process improvement strategies to accelerate the improvement process.
4. Recognizing that workplace culture is essential to quality
“The culture of safety here is palpable. People are willing to speak up and let us know when they have a concern or there’s an issue in the organization. It’s a culture where people are encouraged to have the strength of their conviction and speak up,” Jaskuta says about Main Line Health’s work environment.
This openness to change and innovation is helping the organization maintain patient safety and quality. “If you’re constantly asking questions to understand what the barriers are, and making concentrated efforts to correct what those issues are, and you keep communicating back to your workforce that you’re doing that, it helps everybody feel they’re included in the process. Everybody knows that they have a role to play in ensuring that we have great quality scores,” she says.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing the best for our community. Our people are very community-focused and are very proud of their organization,” says Jaskuta. “I think if you’re proud of your organization, you certainly put your best foot forward which leads to improved outcomes.”
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