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Most healthcare organizations are currently facing many challenges:
The increased pressure and demands to improve services from their patients, healthcare accreditation boards, government agencies, and the media.
There is a need for healthcare organizations to adopt Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI).
CQI Improvement in Healthcare
CQI has found applications in many industry and service sectors but not in healthcare.
However, according to Kahan and Goodstadt, it is certain that many healthcare professionals would not find it difficult to adopt the fundamentals of CQI in their day-to-day activities (83).
In medicine, quality improvement entails making observations, identifying variables, changing processes, analyzing the results, and finally taking appropriate action.
CQI utilizes similar principles as those promoted by the foundations of medicine.
Fundamentals of CQI
Research findings reveal that variations are an integral part of any process, and thus quality control systems entail the processes of determining whether the causes of these variations are natural or they can be controlled (Baker 45).
CQI offers analytical tools that can guide decision-making.
CQI entails the use of control charts, histograms, and process capability charts to determine variation in certain measurements or to summarise the expected process outcomes (Carey and Lloyd 15).
There is a need for one to determine the source of out-of-controls in a given process before developing strategies for eliminating the cause.
Continuous analysis of the process is paramount when one aims at determining whether the changes initiated have achieved process control or not.
Another important aspect of control charts is that they enable one to determine process capabilities, particularly for in-control processes.
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The charts can show the amount of time a patient has to wait before consulting a doctor in hospital (Ovretviet 55).
The Four Steps of using CQI
Major steps of using CQI include planning, doing, studying, and acting (PDSA):
In planning, data regarding the current performance and capabilities of a particular process is collected, then identification of problems and their respective causes using different CQI tools.
The ‘Do’ stage entails identifying changes that can achieve the desired process outcomes.
On the ‘Study’ stage, the impact of the changes on the whole process is analyzed by collecting data regarding the performance of the process and comparing it with the previous situation (Carey and Lloyd 20).
The ‘Act’ stage entails determining whether the changes initiated have achieved the desired outcome or not. If the desired outcome is achieved, the change process is standardized before one move to other priority steps.
However, if the change produces negative results, it is discarded for one to identify different causes underlying specific problems (Carey and Lloyd 21).
CQI Tools and Procedures
Implementation of control charting in the healthcare sector can result in tremendous positive outcomes.
There are many steps and tools available for those intending to implement CQI in their organizations.
The various CQI tools include check sheets, cause-and-effect diagrams, brainstorming, flow charts, histograms, probability plots, Pareto charts, instrument panels, scatter diagrams, report cards, and control charts.
These steps and quality tools facilitate a better understanding of the process of quality improvement before implementing it (Carey and Lloyd 23).
The report has described the basic principles and fundamentals of CQI relative to its significance in the healthcare sector.
It has highlighted the basic steps in using CQI, and the relevant tools and procedures required in CQI.
Therefore, proper implementation and modification of the CQI quality tools and procedures can guide the process of quality improvement in the healthcare sector to achieve the highest standards of quality, and lower costs of healthcare service delivery.
Baker, Gregor R. Applying quality improvement to Canadian health care: can organisational skills address strategic challenges? Quality Management in Heath Care, 31(2004): 45-54. Print.
Carey, Robert G. and Lloyd, Carmen R. Measuring quality improvement in healthcare: a guide to statistical process control applications. Milwaukee: ASQ Quality Press, 2001. Print.
Kahan, Barbara and Goodstadt, Michael. Continuous quality improvement and health promotion: can CQI lead to better outcomes? Health Promot. Int., 14.1(1999): 83-91. Print.
Ovretviet, John. Quality in health promotion. Health Promotion International, 11.1(2006): 55-62. Print.