The long-running debate over how to improve patient safety and reporting efforts — via either transparency or protection from discovery — has resurfaced with a newly-proposed federal disclosure rule.
Just this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed that private accrediting organizations be required to release confidential hospital facility inspection reports, as well as corrective action plans for facilities that receive citations. Currently, such reports are required to be released only for public facilities.
Rounding programs gain popularity
Regardless of which viewpoint actually better facilitates patient safety, patients are demanding more transparent information regarding the cost and quality of care at hospitals. And in an increasingly customer-centric and market-driven healthcare environment, many hospitals are complying with such demands to distinguish themselves from the competition.
More specifically, hospitals are investing in non-clinical rounding programs — structured check ins with patients, their families or particular areas of the hospital. Such programs have gained a lot of attention for their ability to improve patient safety and the overall patient experience.
They also have the added benefit of promoting continuous readiness for the accreditation surveys at issue in the latest CMS proposal — reducing the likelihood of negative survey results and the resulting potential risk of having them made public.
A recent patient safety-focused article from the American Hospital Association actually highlights how one small hospital implemented an inpatient leadership rounding program to increase patient and family engagement — and ultimately improve patient safety.
Technology makes implementing rounding programs easier, more effective
Despite rounding programs’ effectiveness, though, they aren’t necessarily easy to execute because of the logistics involved with organizing stakeholders, structuring the intake feedback, and then actually acting on the information collected or learnings that are realized.
Cost-conscious providers often look to their patient safety reporting system vendors to automate this labor-intensive and typically manual process — only to be disappointed that they can’t help because, in most cases, their solutions don’t directly relate to individual patients or events. At the same, purchasing a stand-alone accreditation management system can be expensive.
The right patient safety and risk management reporting technology, however, can effectively automate these critical activities; tie specific data to specific patients and providers; and integrate findings and corrective actions seamlessly into an organization’s overall improvement efforts for the benefit of all patients.
For instance, healthcare providers can electronically assign rounds to staff members and track progress and completion; input rounding data into customizable and mobile-enabled forms that allow standard and free-text responses; and assign corrective actions and track their progress and completion thanks to automatic notifications that can be triggered based on rounding responses.
And the best solutions aren’t limited to merely automating accreditation-related activities. They’re flexible and scalable, and can accommodate other rounding initiatives, including:
- Infection control practice performance against CDC standards
- Employee Health & Safety/OSHA compliance
- Focused medical reviews
No matter what happens at the federal level regarding hospital inspections and transparency, hospitals that want to compete in today’s marketplace are likely going to have to convert to releasing useful data sooner or later. Effective and integrated rounding can help improve provider performance and make it easier — and less worrisome — to reveal to the public.
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