Patient Safety: A Commitment to Continuous Improvement

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Annual Patient Safety Awareness Week is March 10-16. This initiative was created to promote discussions and encourage actions that will improve patient safety in all healthcare settings. 

Federal mandates tied to quality of care and outcomes have further increased the focus on patient safety over the last few years.  While strides have been made, there is still room for improvement. In fact, the National Academy of Medicine estimates that 5% of adults experience a diagnostic error when seeking outpatient treatment.

Recently, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Scranton, Pennsylvania, created a patient safety curriculum which they hope will be adapted at teaching facilities across the country. Communication and teamwork are core elements of the curriculum.

Source: 2018 AHRQ Patient Safety Culture Survey

Surveying for Safety

Proactively assessing an organization’s commitment to and compliance with patient safety standards is paramount to creating a culture of safety. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) sponsored the development of the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture. This survey asks providers and staff for their opinions about the culture of patient safety and healthcare quality at their medical offices.

Last October, all QualDerm-affiliated practices in North Carolina and Ohio participated in the AHRQ Patient Safety Culture Survey. We conducted this survey as part of our commitment to continuously enhance the quality of care at QualDerm-affiliated practices. Across all surveyed practice locations, QualDerm earned a 93% positive rating for patient safety tracking, well above the 87% national average.

The survey findings also showed that QualDerm-affiliated practices’ areas of strength include:

  • Communication openness
  • Teamwork
  • Office processes related to patient safety tracking
    • Following up with patients who need monitoring
    • Assisting chronic care patients with treatment plan follow-up
    • Preventive and routine care appointment scheduling compliance

Creating a Culture

Conducting the AHRQ survey signals that patient safety is a true priority for QualDerm. Our management teams have analyzed the survey results and are developing action plans to further enhance our patient safety.

However, the benefit of the AHRQ survey goes beyond metrics gathering. The act of simply asking affiliated practices’ physicians and staffs their opinions encourages open communication and empowers individuals to speak up if they see room for improvement.

The level of participation in the survey shows that our affiliated practices care about quality and feel comfortable sharing their opinions. Ninety-four percent of QualDerm-affiliated practices’ physicians and staff members completed the survey. Participation rates for surveys are typically much lower. This confirms that we are succeeding in our mission to create a culture of quality throughout the entire QualDerm network.

Learn more about QualDerm’s commitment to clinical autonomy, quality of care, and patient safety.  

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