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Emerging technology transforms management of quality inspections in health and care organisations

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Reducing paperwork in busy health and care setting removes potential contamination points. There is a good reason why almost every retailer has moved to contactless payments. It’s quick, clean, there’s no contact, and it’s more secure. 

Reimagining quality and health and safety inspections without paper provides similar paybacks. As well as removing a potential infection risk, digital apps encourage staff to share best practice with colleagues, empowering them to take ownership of quality and remove the ‘them and us’ feeling of being judged. 

Rose McNeill, head of strategy at Perfect Ward, explores the potential of today’s innovative technology.

Rose McNeill

The past year has seen changes like no other in health and care organisations around the world. A global pandemic has meant huge changes to the way that many people work, with some routine procedures and treatments postponed, in some cases indefinitely, while healthcare professionals rally to treat incredibly sick patients.

Those that could, started to work remotely with the healthcare sector adopting mobile technology in just a matter of days, a process that would ordinarily have taken possibly years to complete. 

As the healthcare sector adopts digital technologies at pace, there is also help at hand to automate quality inspections.  The days are numbered for visiting auditors armed with clipboard and pen where it can take weeks or months for the results to come back and when they do, often the frontline staff feel unsympathetically judged.   

In its consultation document ‘Busting bureaucracy: empowering frontline staff by reducing excess bureaucracy in the health and care system in England’, the CQC is currently taking an in-depth look at how services work together and how they can evolve in order to meet people’s needs and improve outcomes for all concerned. In doing so, patient safety is being pushed firmly to the top of the agenda. As well as improving patient safety, automating quality inspections has many additional benefits not apparent at first glance.   

Fast time to value 

Mobile apps run on existing infrastructure, so upfront investment is kept to a minimum. Experience at Perfect Ward has shown that healthcare organisations using apps to remove paperwork, speed up the auditing process by at least 60%, valuable time that can be released back to patient care and addressing, rather than simply identifying issues. 

Auditing democratised 

Modern apps engage staff and promote collaborative working by involving everyone. Apps enable a greater focus on specific areas, for example, if auditing Infection Prevention and Control is a top priority, domestic staff are often best placed to identify potential issues and make pragmatic suggestions for improvement because they have an eye for detail. This democratic approach encourages the whole team to own and actively participate in the quality agenda – at one organisation audit return rates increased from 25% to 97%.

Reduce Infection Risk 
Adopting technology that removes the need for paper creates a more COVID-secure environment. The ability to take photos during an inspection and attach them to a report means there is less requirement for external inspection teams, another good COVID measure. 

Immediate feedback for staff  

Completing quality audits via a mobile app means there is no delay in getting the data into the system, offering immediate access to up-to-date information via a desktop dashboard. Information can be stored not only on the standards being met but also any additional key criteria, for example the latest guidelines from the CQC and other Government and health sector bodies.  

Avoiding the ‘tick box’ approach

‘Compliance for compliance sake’ should be a thing of the past.  When staff see the immediate results of using digital technology, auditing is no longer viewed as a tick-box exercise for specific events like CQC visits.  Modern technology encourages frontline staff to share knowledge and best-practice learning with colleagues, essential to continuous improvement.  

Desktop dashboards inform managers

The best emerging technology is highly tailorable to each healthcare organisation’s specific requirements.  This means that health and care organisations can run a centralised system with the flexibility to accommodate the audits and reports applicable to each site.  With information all in one place, easily accessible, and with the ability to identify, track and resolve actions in real-time, managers gain instant visibility of quality standards across their organisation.  Critical quality data provides evidence to make quicker, more informed decisions, focus on key areas for improvement or support the areas that need it most.  

Patients are assured of quality care 

Faced with the current momentous challenges, health and care organisations can save considerable time by streamlining audit and inspection processes. Mobile apps provide a seamless way to evidence that patients are receiving the best possible care and attention by motivated professionals. 

For more inspiration, visit www.perfectward.com 

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