How and when should clinicians and other staff become involved in this process?
Clinicians and staff are key to a successfully implemented QI project and to sustaining quality improvement gains. Implementing a quality improvement program requires significant staff buy-in because it entails consistency in procedures as well as some changes in long established practices. It is therefore best to involve a wide range of staff members as early as possible in the process. Clinicians and staff must be informed regarding QI activities, including the reasons why the QI program is being implemented, the new processes that will be instituted and their roles and responsibilities in the program. The benefits of implementing the QI program must also be communicated to them and their input should be solicited throughout the QI process. Providers should be informed of how the clinical tool will allow them to better manage their patients and deliver better care. Some methods of disseminating QI information include developing automated forms or prompts and sending out periodical reports to clinicians. It is also advisable to conduct routine meetings where clinicians and staff can be informed of the progress of the QI project and where the results that have been obtained can be shared in a user friendly manner. Taking these steps will ensure that all staff is prepared for the changes that are occurring.
Ultimately, clinician participation is necessary in order to most effectively implement changes and to achieve successful QI. In addition to keeping clinicians fully informed, efforts should be made to encourage their involvement. Clinicians should be engaged early in the QI process when decisions are being made on what measures will be tracked and what evidence-based guidelines will be implemented. When clinicians are engaged, they are more likely to feel personally invested in the program, to share the organization’s commitment to QI, and to provide support for the QI program.
Additionally organizations should carefully consider the optimum approach to implementing their QI program. In some cases conducting a pilot implementation to make sure that the necessary clinical data can be appropriately collected without major disruptions to clinician and staff workflow is desirable. By using this approach, data collection can be refined, issues resolved and staff feedback obtained to ensure that the processes are optimized prior to an organization-wide implementation.
Technology Enabled Quality Improvement - Community Clinics Initiative
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