Poll respondents indicate the biggest quality issues patients will face in light of a staffing shortage are:
- Spotty care.
- Longer waits for primary care physician appointments.
- Medical errors.
- Primary care physicians – (44 percent of respondents).
- Nurses and nursing assistants (27 percent of respondents).
- Laboratory professional shortages were also mentioned as an area of concern.
“This trend is real and could have a negative impact on a patient’s experience as heavier demands are placed on the system,” said Joe Fortuna, chair of ASQ’s Healthcare Division. “That’s why it is imperative that healthcare organizations focus on enhancing their ability to prevent errors, remove waste and improve the clinical and operational quality of the services they provide.”
How can healthcare organizations prevent these shortage-related quality issues? Respondents ranked the following solutions in order of priority:
- Create fast track units. These units allow patients with less serious needs to be seen, assessed and treated faster and released in a timely manner. This frees emergency room staff to focus on urgent cases and improves a patient’s access to emergency services overall.
- Install and use healthcare IT systems.
- Implement checklists in the ER and other hospital departments.
- Establish more care teams of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and disease educators.
- Implement a scribe program to improve productivity. Hospital scribes trail doctors from bed to bed, taking detailed notes for a patient’s electronic medical record.
Impact of Healthcare Technology
Poll respondents identified patient electronic medical records as the IT system that will provide the most value in reducing the impact of staff shortages. Respondents ranked other useful IT methods by priority:
- Computerized order entry system for medications.
- Clinical decision support systems. DSS is a computer-based information system that supports an organization’s decision-making activities.
- Telemedicine or remote monitoring systems.
- Automated dose dispensing.
- Disease registries. Registries are collections of secondary data related to patients with a specific diagnosis, condition or procedure.
Respondents said that increased use of quality and process engineers should be the top priority for hospitals to reduce costs in light of shortages. Other methods identified by the ASQ poll include:
- Implement mandatory process improvement training for healthcare.
- Create financial incentives to deliver more efficient care.
- Redesign hospital care spaces to be more efficient.
- Changes in malpractice laws.
ASQ is a global community of people dedicated to quality who share the ideas and tools that make our world work better. With millions of individual and organizational members of the community in 150 countries, ASQ has the reputation and reach to bring together the diverse quality champions who are transforming the world’s corporations, organizations and communities to meet tomorrow’s critical challenges. ASQ is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., with national service centers in China, India and Mexico. Learn more about ASQ’s members, mission, technologies and training at www.asq.org.