Improving the quality of care in a hospital is a major concern for the hospital administration. Devising a strategy that would lead to health care improvement requires an overall analysis of the present quality of hospital services. It is necessary to isolate the factors that are essential for the purposes of health care improvement and indicate the measurements of quality care in a hospital. In order to design and implement an efficient and cost-effective improvement plan, it is crucial to determine the main features in health care organizations. This approach will contribute to a better understanding of the importance that quality care holds for the patients when choosing the hospital, thus helping create a competitive advantage for Sunlight Hospital.
A wide range of measurements can be used to evaluate the performance of a health care provider. These measures are divided into four categories: structure, process, outcome, and patient experience (Morris & Bailey, 2014, p. 3). However, structure measures pertain to the health provider’s capacity to perform rather than to the performance itself. The structure of the hospital is usually assessed by insurance companies for the purposes of accreditation or certification. We will focus on the three following categories, namely, process, outcome, and patient experience, and discuss measurements of the quality of care from each category that are the most vital for the patients.
According to Aiken et al. (2012), such aspects as “the hospital work environment (such as better staffing ratios of patients to nurses, nurse involvement in decision making, and positive doctor-nurse relations) are associated with improved patient outcomes, including mortality and patient satisfaction” (p. 1). Indeed, a positive hospital work environment might prove to be a vital measurement and a significant factor when patients choose a particular hospital, either for emergency or inpatient care. A better work environment, as well as a higher nurse staffing level, is known to lead to an increase in positive patient outcomes (Aiken et al., 2012, p. 4). Moreover, the adequate nurse-patient ratio is a measurement of health care quality as well. The aspects above can be easily evaluated by the patient upon arrival to the hospital. These issues contribute to the patient’s general perception of the particular facility and play a decisive role when the patient makes their decision.
Process measurements determine whether a hospital actually provides the necessary health care. While an adequate nurse–patient ratio can be partially considered a process measurement as well, other crucial factors and measures must be mentioned. The services provided by the health facility must be consistent with the appropriate guidelines. Whether the hospital meets the requirements is relatively easy to assess. Nevertheless, when faced with negative reviews of the hospital’s staff in that respect, a patient will choose a provider with a less dubious reputation.
Patient experience measurements that matter most to the patients include such factors as the interpersonal side of care, the comprehensibility of information, and the time spent waiting for an urgent procedure. Patients are much more likely to follow the medical guidelines provided by their doctors thoroughly if they feel they are treated in a considerate and thoughtful manner (Morris & Bailey, 2014, p. 7). Thus, this particular health care measurement is crucial since more personal interaction with the hospital employees would lead to patients’ perception of them as trustworthy and would ensure that they would want to be treated in this hospital again.
Outcome measurements assess the results of patient care in the hospital and the effects of treatment received in a given facility. Health improvement is more important to patients than the clinical procedures that they have to undergo. Consequently, positive patient outcomes are a priority for any health care provider. It is an essential quality measurement and a reason for patients to entrust a hospital with their health.
An efficient quality improvement plan can be designed that indicates the following features to develop. Adoption of a Hospital Electronic Health Record system would ensure the proper use of the health care services (Kutney-Lee & Kelly, 2011, p. 1). Furthermore, using an EHR system would improve the maintenance of patient medical records, store their medical history, and facilitate the process of patient transfer. That being said, integration of EHR leads to another feature, namely, implementation of measures aimed at retaining a committed and qualified nursing workforce. If the EHR system is properly integrated into the nurse workflow and maintenance is available on a daily basis, it will facilitate the retention of qualified nurses by organizing their work in an efficient manner.
Moreover, introducing more personal interaction might lead to patients committing to their treatments, which would yield better results. Ensuring patients that their health care provider is personally insistent on the improvement of their health would be a clear asset to the hospital. However, it is necessary for the employees to understand the proper extent of the personal relationship with a patient in order to avoid being treated in a lighthearted way, which can make the patient treat their health too lightly and thus exacerbate the problem.
Finally, improving the work environment might prove to be a cost-effective way to improve health care. “Research indicates that staff wellbeing, productivity, and satisfaction are linked with a hospital’s physical environment … Cleanliness and ease of maintenance were ranked as the most important design factor” (Mourshed & Zhao, 2012). Therefore, introducing certain elements to the spatial surroundings inside the facility might result in a better work environment. However, it should be noted that a cautious approach is necessary since surveys have shown that the staff ranked aesthetical objects lower than service-related and environmental design objects.
Development of the features mentioned above would add significant value to Sunlight Hospital. The quality of care is of utmost importance for a health care provider. The benefits of the introduction of these elements are manifold: It yields better results regarding patient care and treatment, raises the status of the hospital, and promotes it, thus allowing it to gain a competitive advantage in the market of health care services.
In an ongoing debate about the most efficient ways to improve health care, multiple ideas are featured as key issues. It is important to isolate the most appropriate and applicable elements for a particular health care facility, taking into account its current drawbacks concerning health care services. The indicated measurements of health care might help to identify the burning issues, which must be faced in order to resolve the problems and raise the status of the hospital. To this end, it is necessary to design an improvement plan featuring the aforementioned elements pertaining to process, outcome, and patient experience. As long as all these aspects are considered and all features discussed are introduced to the extent that is appropriate for the particular facility, quality care will be improved.
Aiken, L. H., Sermeus, W., Van den Heede, K., Sloane, D. M., Busse, R., McKee, M.,… & Tishelman, C. (2012). Patient safety, satisfaction, and quality of hospital care: cross sectional surveys of nurses and patients in 12 countries in Europe and the United States. British Medical Journal, 344 (1), 1717-1756.
Kutney-Lee, A., & Kelly, D. (2011). The effect of hospital electronic health record adoption on nurse-assessed quality of care and patient safety. The Journal of nursing administration, 41(11), 466-472.
Morris, C., & Bailey, K. (2014). Measuring Health Care Quality: An Overview of Quality Measures. Web.
Mourshed, M., & Zhao, Y. (2012). Healthcare providers’ perception of design factors related to physical environments in hospitals. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32(4), 362-370.