If you are starting your quality improvement (QI) journey, one of the vital elements for success is commitment from your team, your stakeholders and other leaders. In turn, if you want to get leaders, stakeholders and teams on board, it is widely acknowledged that clear communication holds the key to implementing a successful transformation strategy.
Improvement Collaboratives can provide a vast range of benefits for your healthcare setting, including saving time, reducing costs, enhancing productivity, improving team and patient satisfaction and decreasing the number of errors or mistakes made. They can also empower staff to develop solutions to problems and put them into practice.
Improvement Collaboratives provide the ideal opportunity for stakeholders and partners to exchange ideas, which can really speed up the transformational change process and implementing your quality ideas. In its report ‘Embedding a culture of quality improvement’, the Kings Fund says: ‘Quality improvement in health care is based on the principle of health care organisations and staff continuously trying to improve how they work and the quality of care and outcomes for patients.’
Other studies highlight the link between compassionate care, patient safety and leadership approach.
Quality Improvement needs to be both embraced and advocated by leaders if it is truly going to make changes and be embedded within a healthcare organisation, so you will need to think about how you are going to engage with your team once you start the process.
The answer is good and clear communications and minimising the burden for your team. You will also need commitment from the board and this can be achieved from engaging well. Here are some ideas for supporting your QI vision.
As a leader of a QI Collaborative, it is vital that you make participation easy for your teams in order to lessen the burden and as you will be engaging with people across multiple disciplines and job roles, it is really important to be a good communicator. A key focus of a QI collaborative is developing and sharing a ‘vision’ and you will need to communicate this to your team over and over again. You can use a wide range of channels of communications to encourage people to ‘buy in’ - you might even want to think about over-communicating!
A quality team at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) wanted to ‘enable a Trust-wide change in culture and shift it to continuous improvement with everyone using the same methodology.’ The team relied heavily on communication with staff – you can read more here.
In the King’s Fund report, one participant spoke about the importance of being transparent and open about the progress of Quality Improvement programmes – and that communication is key.
How to make Quality Collaboratives easier for your teams
As a leader of a QI project, it is very important that you make the collaborative easy for your team members and try to reduce the burden of work, while ensuring team members reap the benefits.
There are a range of ways to do this – and here are some ideas:
Make data entry as easy as possible
You don’t want your team to get bogged down in manual or duplicate reporting – you want to keep life simple for them. You can use online systems to help streamline working processes and tools to help save time, such as Life QI which speeds up the processes associated with Quality Collaboratives and makes it quick and easy to create change ideas while minimising duplicate reporting.
Share data and results so that people in your team can learn from each other
As above, there are online tools that you can use that will simplify the sharing of results and data with your team. Sharing outcomes and data will really help people to engage and learn from one another. Life QI is a really good toolset for all your QI collaborative needs.
Provide QI coaching
QI coaching is a great way to help teams learn along the way. You can carry out QI coaching by using online learning tools such as Life QI, which helps collaboratives of any size work successfully on quality projects and carry out training remotely. Find out more about collaborative programmes.
In the Kings Fund report, one chief executive celebrated success by communicating with his staff through a regular weekly QI publication. Recognition of achievements creates a ‘feedback loop’ and encourages others to emulate this behaviour.
As Quality Improvement methods require a real change in how organisations approach their work, it’s a good idea to be well prepared to ensure that senior leaders are on board with the shared vision for delivering better care for patients, and make sure that there is real staff enthusiasm – and thus - engagement for a new way of working.