4 Key Ways to Improve Clinical Outcomes

As the healthcare industry transitions from fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based payment, hospitals need to focus on delivering the highest quality care possible, according to Maria Ryan, PhD, CEO of Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, N.H.

"I'm passionate about quality because it drives everything," she said. "You hope to spark people's passion for patient care and for doing the right thing."

At the Becker's Hospital Review 5th Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 16, Dr. Ryan identified the following four key ways hospital leaders can achieve better clinical outcomes.

1. Promote hand hygiene. "I can't talk enough about hand hygiene," Dr. Ryan said. "It's really important." She said her hospital has a number of monitors who observe physicians, nurses and others to make sure they wash their hands when they go into patients' rooms. They also installed hand sanitizer dispensers in the hallway, so there's no excuse for clinicians to not wash their hands, she said.

2. Work to sustain change. It's easy to fall back into old habits when attempting to implement new practices, Dr. Ryan said. She advises other hospital leaders to hold staff members accountable, assign ownership, use reminders and "hit them a little in the pocketbook" if doing the right thing isn't enough motivation. "It's difficult to sustain change," she said. "But there are some things that will help you."

3. Take meaningful measurements. Dr. Ryan cautioned against gathering huge volumes of data without thinking about its potential use or meaning. "You want to make sure you're measuring things that mean something," she said.

In order to gauge what data is important, she said hospital leaders should consult key stakeholders. For example, they should ask cardiologists what's crucial to measure in the realm of cardiology.

4. Implement a patient safety checklist. A patient safety checklist can help ensure standardized protocols are followed and minimize errors, Dr. Ryan said. She said her hospital has rolled out a safety checklist and monitors its use. However, she also said the staff members following the checklist are a big factor in its success. "The checklist is only as good as the team that believes in it," she said. "You have to really be passionate that this is the right thing to do for patient care."

More Articles on Clinical Quality:
Video Monitoring in OR Boosts Patient Safety  
Clinicians Pursue Only Half of Clinical Questions Raised at Point-of-Care  
Patient Harms Fall 9% Nationwide, Saving $4B in Healthcare Costs 


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