Top quality care – how do trusts measure, improve and provide quality care?Patients, rightly, expect the best care and clinicians and healthcare staff do their utmost to give it. Yet, figures show that there is much room for improvement among many NHS trusts.  Out of 471 hospital trusts inspected by the Care Quality Commission in 2016, just 13 were rated outstanding. A further 179 were rated good, while 168 required improvement and 23 were rated inadequate.1

Quality care in 2016 is in a less positive place than in 2013 according to the Nuffield Trust.2 While the focus is on improvement, the CQC stated in 2015 that patient safety remained their biggest concern across all health and care services. A Quality Watch report by Nuffield found that in several areas historical gains in quality were beginning to reverse, from waiting times for planned treatment to access to mental health services.
 
To improve care, it is necessary to know what has gone before. Accurate data is essential to be able to keep a clear record of events so that improvement can be measured in the future. The use of data from inside and outside the trust helps to make meaningful decisions about the current and future running of the hospital.
 
Technology has been on the rise in the NHS due to a number of factors coming together, including the Five Year Forward View and the Carter report. Analytics too are coming into play and offer a bright future for the NHS, but this is highly dependent on the accuracy of data.
 
Carter identified the concept of ‘meaningful use’, which recognises that while the NHS has improved in its use of technology and analytics, it does not yet achieve comprehensive meaningful benefits from these assets.
 
Analytics is fast growing in hospitals, but for it to continue to grow trusts have to understand the impact of delivering safe, effective, accurate care from the first point of contact. To enable trusts to move forward and provide better patient care, while making the necessary efficiency savings, they have little choice but to adopt new intelligence and analytic solutions that enable organisations to deliver high quality, safe care.
 
It is vital that healthcare organisations structure and standardise data to better manage administrative and reporting functions. But this is just the bottom line for improvement. The true potential of the use of analytics within the NHS, where the required levels of savings and efficiency are reached, can only be achieved if data quality improves. With quality, accurate data comes the ability to carry out predictive and prescriptive analytics which has the potential to transform all areas of NHS services.3
 
But the vital step is for trust to ensure consistent and accurate data collection. To ensure this, high-performing trusts are working closely with their clinicians and coders. They are listening to the views of their clinicians and ensuring that they are on board and understand the need for accurate data. Good data creates a transparent and comparable system and also highlights areas where improvements need to be made to care. Data can give people an insight into why certain trends are happening and help them make better decisions, creating objectivity and taking away the subjectivity which may come with anecdotal evidence.
 
It accepted that there is a strong link between high quality healthcare and a high reporting culture. It allows early identification of any issues. Lessons can be learned and improvements made through open discussion.
 
But the use of data is not the only way of finding ways to improve. It is essential that trusts share their ideas and look beyond the front door to investigate new ways of working.
 
This year the Q initiative, launched by the Health Foundation and co-funded by NHS Improvement, will begin to take shape. It is aimed at connecting people across the UK who are skilled in improvement. Q will make it easier for people leading improvement to share ideas, enhance their skills and make changes that bring improvements to health care. Patient and carer feedback is also essential when investigating where improvements are needed. The NHS exists for its patients and their view is critical when finding ways to provide the optimum level of care.

This blog post has been taken from our forthcoming report in the next ‘What makes a top hospital?’ report series which looks at the winners from the CHKS Top Hospitals Awards 2016.

Case study: See how a culture of openness and transparency has helped to ensure consistent improvement to quality of care at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Click here to read a case study from our forthcoming report in the next ‘What makes a top hospital?’ report series.

Join us for a quality of care study day on 29th November
We’re running a study day at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust on 29th November – winners of the CHKS Quality of Care Award 2016 for a day of learning, networking and sharing best practice on some of the key issues facing NHS Trusts today around delivering quality of care for patients. Through a mix of informative and interactive sessions, delegates will have the opportunity to listen, learn and share what good looks like and how to get there.

Please click here to find out more and register your place or email info@chks.co.uk or call 0333 241 2432.

References:
1. Care Quality Commission – www.cqc.org.uk
2. Nuffied Trust Quality Watch, Closer to Critical – October 2015
3. Delivering the Five Year Forward View through Business Intelligence, Capita

Patients, rightly, expect the best care and clinicians and healthcare staff do their utmost to give it. Yet, figures show that there is much room for improvement among many NHS trusts.  Out of 471 hospital trusts inspected by the Care Quality Commission in 2016, just 13 were rated outstanding. A further 179 were rated good, while 168 required improvement and 23 were rated inadequate.
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