Leaders should take reins in quality improvement

A new American Hospital Association (AHA) and Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) guide points to leadership, including hospital boards and trustees, as well as senior, physician, and clinical leaders, as the key roles in quality improvement.

According to the "Allied Hospital Association Leadership for Quality 2011" report, the Washington State Hospital Association integrated hospital boards in performance improvement through a CEO and Trustee Patient Safety Summit. During this meeting, hospital board members have an opportunity to ask questions about the sometimes complex clinical reports as they relate to quality.

In another example, the South Carolina Association successfully engaged hospital trustees and senior leaders through a voluntary, board-certification program. This evidence-based program includes governance, quality and patient safety, finance and leadership development, and board leadership courses, available on site and online.

"Many hospitals have successfully implemented initiatives that have improved quality and patient safety through innovative methods," states the report. "While these results are encouraging, to truly transform the health care system, best practices have to be adopted by more hospitals and health systems."

Although many hospitals seek quality improvement, other hospitals (particularly low-scoring ones) refute national quality metrics, including the Hospital Compare website.

The hospital associations and the report aim to share common strategic implementation and measures. The authors found that quality improvement comes from strategic planning, national initiative alignment, measurement, transparency, launching multiple improvement initiatives, partnership, patient engagement, and recognition programs. At the center of these best practices are leaders.

"Associations actively engage hospital governing boards, executive leadership and clinical leadership in patient safety and quality initiatives to ensure commitment to their initiatives. Leadership support promotes and sustains an organization's culture of safety and actively improves the quality and outcomes of evidence-based care for key patient populations."

For more information:
- read the HRET announcement
- check out the full guide (.pdf)

Related Articles:
Hospital quality requires leader partnership, patient engagement
Step-by-step quality improvement measures can ease ACO implementation
4 tested tools that make your hospital safer
Eight proven ways to boost hospital quality