Quality improvement applies to service outcomes

How to improve quality of service outcomes.

Q: I keep hearing about the need to improve quality of service outcomes, as results will be monitored more closely under reform measures. What are the first steps I need to take to achieve this?

A: It's important to consider the market forces driving the move toward increased quality of care. Changes in payment methodologies, clinical data repositories, data analysis methodologies, and electronic health records (EHRs), to name a few factors, are moving us toward a system that can provide concrete outcomes data on physicians, ancillary providers, and hospitals.

To improve your outcomes and meet increasingly stringent quality standards, you'll first need to take a look at your core services through a thoughtful, objective analysis of your practice's culture, philosophy, and attitudes and integrate new, quality-focused methods.

Changes also need to occur in the exam room. When conducting physical examinations, resist the temptation to rush through the basics, and instead establish clear, consistent protocols for exams and treatments. Review your existing protocols at least annually and make sure they're up to date with the latest information and procedures. Make it mandatory for staff to follow these protocols, and retrain staff if necessary so that they understand the importance of following them.

Even small changes to the patient experience, and the resulting patient perceptions of your practice, can put you on the path to improved quality of care. Such things as a neat, organized exam room, a professionally dressed staff, and an air of efficiency and calm throughout the office can enhance patients' positive perceptions of the quality you and your staff provide.

Answer provided by Barry B. Cepelewicz, MD, JD, of Meisalman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz, White Plains, New York. Send your practice management questions to medec@advanstar.com