The medical field values quality management because it serves as a means of ensuring best practices within a health care organization, as well as makes sure patients receive high-quality services. As such, medical organizations develop quality control procedures to create standards that they must reach to know they are performing satisfactorily.
Establishing the Standards
A quality management system has to be told what to monitor. It also has to be told what the standards are, so that it may establish a scoring system to accurately assure that a level of quality has been reached. For that reason, medical organizations must establish desired standards of quality for the areas that will be monitored. Establishing the standards begins with a vision of what the ideal function or process should look like, and then setting the standards to correspond to those areas. For instance, if a health care organization wants to see its referred patients timely, they may create a standard that all of their referred patients must have appointments scheduled within 48 hours. The 48-hour mark becomes the standard, which will be used for monitoring compliance.
Monitoring for Compliance
According to a 2010 update by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a large part of quality control focuses on monitoring, testing and inspecting products or services to check for defects, areas of excellence and areas for improvement. In the health care field, quality control procedures are concerned with monitoring services by performing audits. Auditing can be performed on documents, such as patient medical files, or processes, such as how long it takes patients to receive appointments when they are referred. Audits use a quantitative approach to capture hard data that can be compiled into statistics. Audit tools may be basic or comprehensive, depending on the level of detail needing to be reviewed. During an audit, the area being reviewed will receive a score, which will depict whether or not that deliverable has met the required standards.
Process Improvement Projects
When areas in the medical field are deficient and do not reach the targeted standards, quality control procedures require process improvement projects. Process improvement projects give departments in a health care organization the chance to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. According to the January 2010 issue of “MIT Sloan, Management Review,” Six Sigma is a common process improvement project that companies in any industry employ when needing to find ways to enhance their continuous quality improvement methods. Process improvement projects are a valuable part of quality control procedures because health care companies want to correct deficiencies to ensure things such as patient safety and to minimize low quality services.
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