Public/Community Health and Home Care agencies are being asked to be accountable for Quality Improvement activities on a number of different levels.
Some agencies are beginning to prepare for national public health accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board.
Others have been part of the Multi-State Learning Collaborative that brought state and local health departments together with other stakeholders—including public health institutes, health care providers, and universities—to improve public health services and the health of their community by implementing quality improvement (QI) practices.
Home Care agencies are looking to Quality Improvement to become more efficient and effective with their prospective payment dollars.
The governing body of your agency may also be asking for documentation of efforts to improve the quality of your services or to justify their effectiveness/existence in these times of tight budgets.
Quality Improvement, in a nutshell, is improving the effectiveness or efficiency of the work that we do.
“But,” you say, “I do that all the time!
We are always tweaking our work processes and making things better for our staff and clients.”
Health care agencies are very good at that. What you may not be so good at is documenting what you do in a standardized way so you get credit for it.
How can an electronic health record (EHR) help in your efforts?
By having quantifiable data in a format (standardized categories & codes) that allows an agency to “ask questions of the data”, the agency can use their EHR to do some of the following:
- Look for areas or populations that may be underserved – this could be such areas as:
- Age groups
- Diagnostic groups
- Grant programs
- Geographical areas
- any combinations thereof
- Look for programs that are not serving sufficient populations to warrant their continuance.
- Match program data to Community Health Plans to provide data for Community Report Cards.
- Use time & mileage data by program areas to improve on the best use of staff resources.
- Measure savings in staff efficiency and supply costs by using a paperless (or almost paperless) EHR vs. paper documentation/mailing/filing.
- Look for possible QI projects by comparing yourself to previous years or to similar agencies in your region.
Can you think of more ways to make use of the data in your EHR?
Champ Software has a Discussion Board where ideas can be shared with your colleagues.
Do you have a great idea for a QI project making use of your Electronic Health Record?