A collaborative project undertaken by the Treasury, the Ministry of Health and the Health Quality and Safety Commission (with collaboration from the Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Whanganui and Canterbury District Health Boards) has shown a clear link between Quality Improvement (QI) strategies and organisational outcomes.
Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said the lessons learned on this project go beyond the health sector and can be applied to organisational success more generally.
"The value of having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve is essential for any organisation.
"Engaging with customers and ensuring that their experience and outcomes are the focus of an organisation can lead not only to improved outcomes but also to efficiencies in delivery of services.
"Elements that contributed to the success of programmes in these DHBs are relevant to other services delivered by the government," said Mr Makhlouf.
The quality improvement programmes undertaken by the four DHBs were all significantly different in nature, approach and scale. However, common success factors that led to improvements included alignment to strategic goals, executive and clinical leadership, culture and capability, measurement and results, and customer engagement and patient experience.
The report showed that improvements to processes, such as standardising the steps in the clinical pathway a patient takes through treatment (for example, specialist referrals or diagnostic procedures), reduced the number of unnecessary referrals from primary to secondary healthcare, leading to reduced costs and better patient outcomes.
Ben McBride, Manager of the Treasury’s Health Team, says these case studies provide a real-life example of what an approach focused on patient outcomes looks like in practice.
"What this project has shown us is that a focus on quality can lead to better patient outcomes and improved patient experience," said Mr McBride.
The report can be found at: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/informationreleases/health/quality-improvement-strategies-dhbs
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