Prescription for Success: The Impact of Organizational Reform on Healthcare Quality 

Updated on May 13, 2024

Healthcare operations—the backend processes that keep hospitals and health systems running—are pivotal to the success of care delivery, with a clear and direct impact on patient safety, as well as care quality and outcomes. An organization’s technologies, processes and culture play critical roles across the care delivery continuum, from staff and patient well-being and workplace safety to labor shortages and employee burnout. As such, improving these three aspects of healthcare operations is key to creating a system that is efficient, equitable and patient-centered, one that will drive improved outcomes and a safer experience for patients and care teams alike. 

Maximizing technology 

Data is and will continue to be one of the most valuable resources in healthcare. Yet 97% of data produced by healthcare each year goes unused. As the industry continues to look for ways to merge siloed data and systems, methods for summarizing and drawing actionable insights to improve existing processes must happen in tandem. Healthcare has continued to lag in its adoption of technology that allows for optimal data analysis and utilization, compared to other industries that have been more successful in finding ways to integrate data from varying sources to provide safer experiences for users and employees. 

For example, the aviation industry promotes a culture of safety through standardized practices for passengers, security personnel, gate staff and airline employees that ensure flying is the safest experience possible for those involved. Pre-flight inspections review aircraft readiness, and pilots adhere to thorough checklists to verify system functionality. Flight attendants confirm passengers are compliant with in-flight protocols such as seatbelts and preparedness for emergencies. During a flight, various technologies are used to monitor altitude and speed limits, maintain safety in the air and continuously communicate with air traffic control in case of potential hazards. Each of these tools works together to contribute to safer travel and operations. And when accidents do occur, there are also standard practices in place to report incidents and assist those involved. 

Vigilance and preparation are critical to safe aviation operations, and healthcare can adopt a similar model with non-negotiable standard practices to deliver safer and higher-quality care. Interoperability plays a significant role in accomplishing this data utilization. By connecting systems and migrating to cloud technology, health systems will be able to streamline their processes through shared data and better decision-making across the board. 

Procedural support 

Connected operations in healthcare also allow for stronger communication between departments, care teams, patients and their families. Factors such as organizational and technological errors are two primary reasons for patient harm incidents, according to the World Health Organization. By removing communication barriers and improving collaboration, connected healthcare technology can reduce room for errors, enabling safer care. Whether the miscommunications stem from a patient-provider language barrier, missing information from the internal system or data transfers between teams, the technology utilized within a hospital should streamline data sharing to avoid these common flaws. Executive leadership and stakeholders must be on board with implementing the technology that unites hospital functions—restricted budgets are often what lead to slow adoption and limited buy-in. But with senior risk leadership present, they can move the needle in improving implementation and the processes that follow. 

Implementing a designated risk management executive or team can also be extremely beneficial when prioritizing care quality improvements. These designated individuals can evaluate what is going both right and wrong while overseeing risk management projects. Without a specific risk safety monitor in place, it is difficult to know what procedures need to be changed and progress will be limited. As these procedural changes are explored and implemented, the organizational priority should be making it easier for staff to do their jobs, both safely and productively, to move toward enhanced quality of care delivery.

Embracing a human-centric culture 

Internally, hospitals must ensure their staff feel supported in the work they do. Fostering a human-centric culture of continuous learning, adaptability and ongoing professional development will help improve healthcare operations and patient outcomes and provide the necessary workplace tools to succeed. With the lingering industry troubles of staff shortages and clinician burnout, expectations are high for what employers deliver to their people. Employees, especially those in healthcare, must feel they are being taken care of both personally and professionally, or their ability to provide quality patient care is bound to decrease. 

If providers are properly trained and supported, care models can be centered around patients, allowing them to actively participate in their healthcare decisions. Patient-centric care allows for more human interactions, rather than the provider focusing on the technology being used to document or inform the care delivery. With connected technology and operations allowing for the provider to dial in on the patient, they see a fuller picture as they make decisions, resulting in greater care quality and outcomes.

Transforming an organization’s technology, procedures and culture is an ongoing effort that requires dedication and a collective commitment from all stakeholders. By adapting each of these areas, hospitals are enabling providers to do the right thing no matter the situation. Organizational reform provides both physical and mental tools that enable providers’ ability to deliver safer care and better outcomes. 

Jeff Headshot
Jeff Surges
CEO at RLDatix

Jeff Surges is CEO of RLDatix.