Patient Safety Best Practices From Two Healthcare Experts

April 9, 2021
April 9, 2021

Recently, HealthStream interviewed two leaders in patient safety to learn more about what top-performing organizations are doing to improve patient safety. Joan Wynn, PhD, RN is the Chief Quality Officer and President of Vidant Home Health and Hospice. Brenda Kuhn, RN, Ph.D, FACHE, CPHQ is the Network Chief Quality Officer at Kettering Health Network. Both shared their strategies as well as the challenges faced by senior healthcare leaders trying to address patient safety and quality issues. Here are some of their best practices:

Explain the Whys.

Clinicians need to understand the ‘whys’. Engaged clinicians will own exceptional care. It is critical to have them involved in developing and monitoring processes that lead to the consistent delivery of quality care,” said Dr. Kuhn. Staff understand the workflow and can identify barriers to success that most likely are not obvious to leaders. Walk in my shoes initiatives are meaningful for leaders to gain a better understanding of the realities faced by clinicians as they balance multiple priorities in the care of patients.

Look for Solutions From Frontline Staff.

According to Dr. Wynn, direct caregivers really have the best ideas about how to improve care and really understand where the gaps are. Recently we were working on a blood clot prevention program. We decided to use an e-Survey tool to quickly get a better understanding of nursing perceptions and practices regarding anticoagulant medications, particularly when a patient refuses that medication. We got much more feedback than we would have been able to get from other means and we got it much more quickly. Moreover, what we learned really helped to point us in the right direction moving forward with our blood clot prevention work, using data that we otherwise might not have gotten.”

Share Data About Progress Widely.

In addition, Dr. Wynn tells us that Vidant uses an organization-wide format for reporting quality scores. The report is used from the boardroom to the bedside. This weekly and monthly focus on the areas for both celebration and improvement is a crucial way in which Vidant engages employees in key initiatives. This thorough and transparent reporting is shared widely and builds the will to improve.

Make Use of Daily Safety Huddles.

Dr. Wynn shared that every entity within Vidant participates in a daily safety huddle. The president of each entity runs the huddle which includes all disciplines and department managers. The stand-up meeting lasts approximately 30-minutes and agenda items might include: anything that has happened within the last 24 hours, what is going on today, the numbers for admissions, discharges and transitions, anything unusual that may be happening and each department has a report from which they share that helps keep managers aware of key issues with staffing, equipment and any other safety or risk concerns.

Conclusion: Where Are We Still Vulnerable?

While the news on the patient safety front is essentially about improving metrics, we also were curious about what industry experts would say about remaining vulnerabilities. What keeps people entrusted with patient safety awake at night? Both Dr. Kuhn and Dr. Wynn pointed to the rather dizzying, constantly growing and evolving metrics related to safety, quality, patient experience and ultimately, reimbursement. The sheer number of ratings and rankings and their associated reporting requirements make it a challenge to collect the data and to respond appropriately. Dr. Kuhn also cited the challenges of managing increasing numbers of priorities in terms of understanding what is next for the Accountable Care Act and the challenges of continuing to focus on quality while reimbursement is changing.