The quality of care and services that hospitals provide has been put to the test in recent years due to a number of factors. An aging population, a worldwide pandemic, and more have created strain for hospitals and medical care providers. Increased competition and higher demand will necessitate that hospitals stay on top of consistently providing high-quality experiences for all their patients.
Here are five ways hospitals can improve their service provision and ensure more quality experiences for their patients.
Step One: Lessen Barriers to Healthcare that Unequally Affect Minority Patients
Defined by Medical News Today as “avoidable differences in health between different groups of people,” a number of sweeping health averages indicate systemic inequity in treatment provision between people of different races and demographic groups. Statistics like average lifespan length differences between races and lingering residential segregation (and its effects on healthcare accessibility) reveal the work hospitals and healthcare providers still need to do to ensure that treatment and health services are equally accessible to people of all demographics, and particularly members of underserved populations.
To progress in this area, hospitals should consult external bodies and resources to learn more about how systemic inequities manifest in their local area. They could also poll their staff, patients, or local community to learn where barriers exist and how to make services more accessible to everyone.
Step Two: Consider Implementing Telehealth Offerings and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Telehealth provision can make some types of healthcare provision and support more efficient and reduce necessary resources for both the patient and the healthcare provider. It is not an adequate substitute for all types of healthcare provision, but in certain applications, telehealth can decrease workloads and allow hospitals to streamline care. This frees resources that can be allocated elsewhere. Additionally, telehealth offerings are more accessible and convenient for some patients.
Similarly, integrating AI usage into aspects of your service provision can provide higher quality care and reduce demand on resources by automating processes that would otherwise have been performed manually. AI softwares can be used to diagnose or analyze certain types of tests and screening results, providing a “second opinion” or verifying diagnoses. They can also be applied to aspects of care that nurses or other personnel normally must perform manually, such as administering medication. This can reduce errors and improve care quality.
Step Three: Make Sure Your Hospital is Prepared to Navigate the Nuances of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality
Health information can be incredibly sensitive and must be handled with care. Legislation concerning how patient information should or should not be used can be complicated and lead to lawsuits if disregarded or incorrectly implemented. Additionally, mishandling a patient’s health information or making mistakes with their data can significantly discolor their experience. It is imperative for any hospital to ensure that all of its staff and protocols comply with patient confidentiality laws and patient information laws.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the primary piece of legislation that oversees patient privacy and patient-doctor confidentiality. HIPAA governs what can and cannot be done with patient data and provides operational guidelines. It speaks specifically to privacy rules, security considerations (especially with regard to digital data storage), and breach notification requirements (in cases of data being hacked or accessed maliciously). Correctly implementing patient data protocol is vital to a hospital’s care process.
Step Four: Draft a Preventative Health Care Plan for Common Health Conditions and Integrate into Care Protocol
This can be especially important for health conditions that can be dependably detected or conditions that are more effectively treated when detected early on. The more that hospitals offer routine or accessible screenings, the more they can help the patients they serve avoid serious and costly health concerns down the road. These can include screenings for common types of cancer as well as other commonly experienced diseases and conditions.
Making diagnostic action more accessible can make a greater percentage of the cases a hospital manages easily treatable, rather than letting more cases develop into latter, more acute stages.
Step Five: Formulate a Robust Patient Safety Policy and Make Sure Training Procedures Are in Place to Uphold Them
Even in today’s medically advanced landscape, Maryville University reports that “2.6 million people die annually due to unsafe care in hospitals.” Patient safety concerns can range across a wide spectrum of considerations. These include facility safety, appropriate equipment use, avoiding infections after procedures, avoiding creating resistances as the result of overmedication, standards of sanitization, prescription accuracy and error avoidance, maintaining care after patient discharge, and more.
Hospitals have resources available to them that can help them analyze and improve their patient safety measures. These include standardized measurement instruments they can implement for assessment, external patient safety organizations that can perform independent audits, and more. This area is one of vital importance in striving to make sure every patient leaves the hospital safely and with a good stay experience, no matter what their need.
Implementing each of these steps will go a long way in providing more quality services for every hospital patient.