How quality management in healthcare can improve patient safety

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A study into the impact of ISO 9001 on healthcare providers has found that patient safety is improved when a healthcare provider has achieved ISO 9001 certification. Find out how quality management, and ISO 9001 specifically, can benefit healthcare providers and make patients safer.

ISO 9001 can help any organisation improve efficiency, implement consistent and repeatable processes, and achieve operational excellence. Healthcare is no exception, but it can also deliver an even greater benefit: a study published in ‘Biotechnology & Biotechnological Equipment’ has revealed that ISO 9001 certification can help to improve patient safety.

How can ISO 9001 improve patient safety?

The study confirmed that a quality management system implemented via ISO 9001 certification improved patient safety by delivering the following benefits.

Increase operational efficiencies

By achieving ISO 9001 certification and implementing a Quality Management System (QMS), an organisation will formalise a set of operational processes that can be followed across the entire organisation. This means that no-one will run into unfamiliar processes when transferring care to another department, or endure unnecessary bureaucracy when requesting information.

A QMS also helps your organisation highlight opportunities for efficiency in existing processes, removing unnecessary steps or reducing the time they take.

Both of these will ensure that your staff spend less time in frustrating bureaucracy and that patients receive their care faster.

Boost cost-effectiveness

The efficiencies delivered by a QMS can also make your organisation more cost-effective. In fact, one study found that quality management was required for hospitals to become more cost-effective.

And, of course, cost-effectiveness isn’t just about balancing the books. It can free up funds for treatments, equipment, and training that can make your care both better and safer for patients.

Reduce errors

Part of establishing quality processes involves identifying incidents where things went wrong, or errors were made. By adjusting your processes to account for these mistakes, you can help ensure that they don’t happen again.

Clear and comprehensive processes also help to reduce the risk of future errors; although you will never be able to remove all possibility of error, a clear and easy-to-follow process should leave staff in no doubt as to how to fulfill their task properly.

Whether you are preventing the repetition of past mistakes or attempting to avoid future errors, both efforts will result in improved patient safety.

Engage in continuous improvement

Healthcare is a constantly evolving field, and your quality management needs to evolve with it. A commitment to continual improvement is a core pillar of ISO 9001, and your QMS will require regular reviews and appraisals to identify better ways of doing things.

If an improvement or a new efficiency can be found, this will improve your quality processes and boost patient safety even further.

Make it easier to discover the causes of poor performance

These regular reviews will also help you to identify areas of your organisation where performance has slipped. This will give you an opportunity to review your processes and improve them to address poor performance and put in place measures to bring things back up to your standards, ensuring that poor performance doesn’t impact on patient safety.

Produce a more preventive approach instead of a reactive environment

A core principle of many ISO standards is a proactive approach to risk, and ISO 9001 is no exception. As part of implementing your Quality Management System, you will be identifying risks that could interfere with your processes and thereby potentially compromise patient safety.

By instilling this preventative approach into your underlying processes, you’ll engender an environment that proactively identifies emerging risks, preventing issues from having a negative impact on patient safety.

ISO 9001 and healthcare

Implementing a Quality Management System through ISO 9001 is a straightforward process. It begins with a visit from one of our specialist auditors, who will examine your existing quality infrastructure. They’ll advise you where you’re already meeting the requirements for ISO 9001, and identify any gaps or improvements you will need to make to achieve your certification.

Once you’ve addressed these gaps, our auditor will return to conduct a second assessment to confirm if all of the improvements have been made. If this assessment proves successful, you’ll be issued with your certification.

Take this free online course to find out more about Quality Management Systems and how they can help your organisation.

To learn more about achieving ISO 9001 certification for your organisation, contact us today for a quote.

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Written by Mark Nutburn

CTO - technology professional with over 20 years of IT experience building bespoke CRM systems and designing customised software solutions. A key part of the management team at The British Assessment Bureau for many years and a part of AMTIVO’s management team.