Patient safety. Not long ago, that wasn't on the general public's radar screen. That, however, is no longer the case.
In 2001, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Crossing the Quality Chasm, a research-based report that calls on the nation's hospitals and healthcare systems to improve patient safety and quality of care. The release of this groundbreaking report received widespread coverage in the national and local media. Related stories continue to appear in the print and broadcast media daily - urging heightened awareness of the need to be an informed patient and consumer of healthcare services. And the Internet is increasingly relied upon as a source of health and patient care information.
Memorial Health System embraces the IOM findings and encourages patients and prospective patients to become informed and knowledgeable. This is reflected in Memorial Health System's strategy (launched in 2001) to strengthen throughout the organization the discipline needed heighten our commitment to safety and engage in the deliberate, thoughtful actions required of patient safety and quality of care.
This strategy includes the following:
Since 2001, more than 250 leaders (including Memorial Health System's senior management team) completed the Level I Quality Leadership Institute - a 20-hour quality education and leadership training program. A Level II program was introduced in 2002 for those who completed Level 1 curriculum last year.
Also in 2001, Quality Management for Medical Leaders (a related course) was presented to physician leaders in Memorial Health System's physician network, HealthCare Network Associates (now called Memorial Physician Services).
Programs such as Accomplishing Change Together (A.C.T.) are supporting all employees as we strive to provide consistency in caring for patients, administering programs and services, and managing the maintenance and operation of our facilities.
Annual quality audits, conducted every April, are followed with development and implementation of comprehensive work plans that address areas for improvement.
An organizational "dashboard," or "balanced scorecard," was developed to provide the health system Board of Directors, physician leadership and administrative staff with a powerful tool to improve our health system's performance in such key areas as patient care and customer service; financial and market results; staff and process performance; and organizational effectiveness.
Memorial Health System is committed to a culture of safety, quality and clinical excellence. As a first step, a new "systems approach" to medication orders and reporting has been developed. Our culture is supported by a "blame-free" administrative policy and commitment to find and improve processes rather than promote a "culture of blame" that exists in many organizations.
It's OK to Ask provides important support for all these initiatives. This program is based on the premise that with the patient as a partner, the risk of accidental injury decreases and overall patient safety improves. As a patient safety and communication program, it is designed to build on Memorial Health System's core strength of providing skilled and compassionate care.