Accreditation and compliance in the health care sector could at times be compared to painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. No sooner are you finished then you have to start again. Nearly every organisation within the sector would be either preparing for some sort of accreditation survey or inspection or have just been through one.
Health care accreditation in Australia is mainly through the Australian National Quality Standards that are a requirement for all hospitals, including small facilities, day surgery and dental practices. It is an intense period of activity but also a rewarding experience for an organisation when it all goes well. Dr Farmer, Clinical Director of Metrixcare and I have personally been through it many times. Over the years we have heard mentioned a medical condition called Post-Accreditation Burnout caused by stress, lack of sleep, high blood pressure and a flurry of effort associated with highly important work events. I might have suffered from it once but fortunately it can easily be cured by a holiday or by moving to more continuous accreditation approaches.
“The scarcest resource in healthcare is time.” (Govis)
From both Dr Farmer’s and my extensive experience in working in the healthcare sector and in talking with our clients we noticed how difficult it is to keep track of where everything was up to across all of the standards. It is usually a bunch of spreadsheets with notes and information with links to documents and other evidence. There had to be a better way. So, we developed as part of the functionality of the Metrixcare platform a data visualisation we call the Compliance Starburst, sounds cool – it is. This provides status-at-a-glance across the whole accreditation or standards framework. It allows users to interactively navigate any standard and assign a progress that is colour coded in the display. It allows a health provider to easily update progress and use a highly visual and engaging presentation tool to facilitate sharing and discussion about activities on a regular basis.
The most important aspect though is that it encourages a systems view, structures for resilience and can offer many ways to streamline data, save time and effort. This was my survival tip to self once as a hospital IT systems manager and it began a transformative time at our hospital. At some point accreditation and quality improvement are one in the same. A continuous approach can change the nature of conversations to be an opportunity for excellence, but with an eye on compliance.
Accreditation requirements need coordination of activities to collect and organise evidence then track progress. With a single management system for feedback, data captured can be automatically reported in real-time into a management framework used by decentralised teams to track and report on progress. This helps to integrate accreditation activities into day to day operational workflows and care activities. Our in-patient bedside audit tool is a good example that gives valuable information that automatically links to all areas of the NSQHS standards. Advanced data visualisations then allow users to easily navigate and report on national quality standards compliance and instantly see the overall status of accreditation in real-time and at a glance.
The socio-technical aspects of good governance, accreditation and quality are critical. New tools and approaches can help in guiding conversations for better patient care and harnessing collective efforts toward your shared goals.
We think it’s time for new integrated approaches to accreditation, standards compliance and quality governance. Approaches that provide high quality outcomes for patients as efficiently as possible.