As a healthcare professional, you strive to provide your patients with quality, personalised care and empower them to engage in their own healthcare journey. However, the daily operational pressures and the unique needs of every patient means navigating patient care can be fraught with risk.
While the domains of clinical governance vary from state to state, they generally cover safety, clinical effectiveness, patient-centricity and an effective workforce. Implementing a governance framework minimises risk and ensures quality patient care as you grow and scale your clinic. So what is needed to protect yourself, your team, and your patients?
Effective leadership in healthcare looks to the future and takes a proactive approach. Investing time into the following areas will help set your clinic up for long-term success:
– The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards
3 essentials for a scalable IT risk and governance strategy:
1. Establish and evolve your data collection systems
Data is your foremost advocate in the decision making process.
"It's not possible to know whether the best possible care or service is being provided if there is no information about that care or service. It's therefore an essential part of a continuous improvement program to collect data on different aspects of the care and services being provided. Monitoring allows identification of the aspects of any problem, gathers data for analysis, or establishes a baseline.”
– Deborah Jones, Manager of Standards and Program Development at the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards
Proactive risk identification in healthcare begins with visibility. Some ways you can do this within your practice include:
Investing in supportive technology:
From lost paperwork to misdiagnoses, medical procedures come with a certain degree of risk. A study into Australian medical practices estimated that errors occur during one in every 1000 consultations — and 70% of the time, this can be attributed to failures in healthcare processes.
Intuitive, cloud-based practice management platforms are a cost-effective way to streamline processes, equip you and your team with the data needed to make informed decisions, and protect information flow from human error.
Streamlining your reporting processes:
Reporting is a crucial part of achieving synchronicity within your organisation. However, punitive reporting processes may lead to more harm than good as your team may be hesitant to report incidents, or incidents may be downplayed.
Effective reporting must be proactive and collaborative, so your team can use information from incidents and near-misses to identify areas of higher risk – and thereby enact proactive measures of prevention. This can be achieved by implementing effective communication streams, such as patient satisfaction surveys, clear communication lines with your team, and regular discussions with other stakeholders.
2. Effective governance equips patients and practitioners alike to take ownership
In order to have the best chance of long-term success and high standards of care, there must be shared ownership of every patient’s health journey.
“Building a culture of ownership is the secret sauce to making the leap from good to great. By connecting our people's personal values to the core values of the organization and empowering them to act upon those values, the mission and vision can be achieved.” – Bob Dent, co-author of Building A Culture Of Ownership.
Some ways to put this into practice within your clinic include:
Reviewing processes and areas of responsibility:
Revisit the division of labour within your team on a regular basis to confirm that everyone is on the same page. Ensure there’s no overlap between responsibilities and that each team members' time and skills are being used efficiently.
Healthcare leaders should also frequently check in with their team for feedback on the current organisational and technological processes. Are they making it easier or harder for them to do their job? If they’re hindering their efforts, it may be time to revisit how you can streamline processes within your clinic.
Invest in patients portals and supportive information channels for patients:
Shared ownership doesn’t just apply to your core team — patients should also be active participants in their own healthcare journeys. Research shows that when healthcare administrators, practitioners and patients work in partnership, the quality and safety of healthcare rises, costs decrease, provider satisfaction increases and patient experience improves.
Fostering this patient-centered experience begins before they even step foot in to your waiting room. Patients look favourably upon accessible portals that allow them to find and book appointments online and streamline information sharing before their appointment. Providing patients with useful online resources about their condition and following up with them about their options has also been proven to engage patients. This improves medical adherence and thus, the outcome.
3. Adopt a proactive approach for positive change through reviewing your systems regularly
The first step to achieving effective governance within your clinic is establishing a robust strategic plan that maps out long-term success. However, it’s not enough to simply have this strategy in place. After all:
“Governance is not a steady state but adaptive, responding where necessary to the changing circumstances of the environment,” – David Churchill, Risk management: Putting the Principles of Good Governance into Clinical Practice
Every six months, healthcare leaders should revisit their strategic plan to ensure that all patient, staff and organisational processes continue to support this goal.
Over to you
Solidifying a scalable strategy for governance and risk is essential to effectively grow your clinic. However, it’s not simply about tackling today’s challenges. Is your clinic ready for the future of healthcare?
Discover our guide to future proofing your healthcare organisation. We explore the essentials of adapting to tomorrow’s change, for ensuring long term success.