Examining the role of healthcare administrators in promoting patient safety and quality improvement

Examining the role of healthcare administrators in promoting patient safety and quality improvement

Patient safety is a critical component of healthcare. Hospitals and healthcare organizations can protect patients and reduce adverse health outcomes by emphasizing safety. This is especially critical because the pandemic has brought new challenges, such as personnel and resource shortages for care providers.

In healthcare, patient care involves initiatives to minimize or avoid preventable harm to patients during their treatment and strategies to reduce patient health risks. More often than not, patient safety initiatives include reducing physical, cognitive, and emotional harm and safeguarding private patient data. Depending on the healthcare organization, these initiatives include protocols to avoid accidents, misdiagnoses, and neglect that might inadvertently hurt the patient and reporting issues.

When healthcare leaders set goals for their organization, such as patient safety, they use the quality improvement process. Through quality improvement, they can provide a systematic approach and gain insightful data which can be used to improve the quality and safety of healthcare delivery. By improving healthcare quality and safety, medical leaders can achieve efficiency, reduce healthcare expenses, and ensure desirable patient outcomes.

Regardless of the importance of patient safety, the World Health Organization reports overwhelming evidence that many patients are harmed by their healthcare either through increased length of stay, permanent injury, or death. The same report adds roughly 440,000 people die annually from preventable healthcare errors. One way to reduce or prevent these errors that can impact a company’s reputation is for medical organizations to hire a healthcare administrator.

Also known as healthcare managers and health services managers, healthcare administrators are skilled individuals directing the operation of hospitals and health systems. They are responsible for an organization’s programs, budgets, staff, relations with other healthcare institutions, and data handling. Unlike clinicians, they do not deal directly with patients. Instead, they shape organizational policies, make required changes, and lead their organizations in improving patient safety and experience.

They establish a safety and health management system

Healthcare administrators work behind the scenes to make large-scale decisions for a hospital or medical institution. One of these decisions includes establishing a comprehensive safety and health management system to reduce workplace hazards and injuries. Doing so empowers organizations to protect workers, save money, ensure patient safety, and make hazard-specific programs more effective.

If accidents happen, a system will empower healthcare leaders to respond appropriately, report and monitor incidents, and work towards preventing future ones from occurring by considering what went wrong and ensuring that it does not happen again. However, it is worth noting that building, let alone implementing a safety and health management system for patients, requires careful evaluation and thorough planning.

Healthcare administrators must have an in-depth knowledge of their organization’s regulatory framework in patient care and get everyone in the appropriate decision-making process to adjust policies as needed. While outlining your organization’s safety and management system, you must ensure who does what, when, and how regarding patient health safety arrangements.

This allows you to monitor performance and emergency response, obtain the resources, and share information with the relevant healthcare executives. Remember that a safety and management system is never constant and requires iteration to ensure it can meet hospital and patient demands. This means performing regular inspections and audits to investigate incidents, monitor new hazards, and ensure the system is still aligned with industry standards and best practices.

They help employees understand safety and staffing policies

Sometimes ensuring patient safety is as easy as educating healthcare employees about staffing policies and their roles in patient safety. Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare personnel often work long shifts. While doing so allows healthcare organizations to admit more patients, it can also pose a significant risk of them making wrong decisions due to stress and fatigue. There is an age-old adage that employees can be an organization’s asset, but it only happens when you put your workers in a position to succeed.

Healthcare administrators put organizations in this position by educating medical teams on how they can deliver better care. This means helping them understand the duties of upholding patient safety and outlining safety policies and procedures. Although there is no one-size-fits-all formula, healthcare administrators often start by aligning employees to foster a safety culture.

This allows you to communicate new safety programs and ensure employees can implement them when dealing with patients. In building a safety program, you must identify the main messages you want to communicate and the important safety updates to be shared with employees and healthcare executives. Doing this allows you to gain ideas from nurses, physicians, and other healthcare personnel on the frontlines of care. More often than not, they are aware of patients’ issues regarding safety and healthcare delivery.

By considering their opinions, healthcare administrators can formulate patient-centric safety programs. Besides frontline personnel, healthcare managers must get leadership buy-in to amplify safety messages and encourage everyone to follow them. Creating an open and transparent environment facilitates and drives discussions that enable everyone to pitch their suggestions, report concerns, and feel empowered to contribute to workplace safety programs.

This makes creating a safety compliance plan that considers how employees establish policies easier. By building a safety compliance plan, healthcare organizations can form strong patient trust and establish a framework to assess medical’s employee compliance to positive treatment outcomes. Moreover, it can promote safe treatment environments with a centralized compliance outlet and standards suitable for the patient, employees, and organization.

They assist in developing a patient-centered practice

Patient-centered care has taken center stage in the discussion of patient safety and quality provision of healthcare. Through patient-centered care, hospitals and healthcare organizations can reduce emergency room visits, increase patient, family, and care team satisfaction, ensure faster recovery, and enhance organizational reputation. Moreover, patient-centered care empowers patients to establish health objectives and desired outcomes and participate actively in treatment. Doing so empowers healthcare professionals to customize their treatment plans to reach those health objectives and outcomes.

Patient Centered Care In Practice
Patient Centered Care In Practice

However, defining patient-centered care is only the tip of the iceberg. Medical organizations must obtain the assistance of a healthcare administrator to implement this patient care model successfully since it requires extensive training on practices that can be enabled with the appropriate digital tools. To promote patient-centered practice, healthcare administrators coordinate frontline care, ancillary care, support services, and clinical care to actively participate in conversations that help them understand their care plan.

Moreover, they make healthcare accessible by using software platforms to make it easier for patients to set appointments and follow-ups. After all, healthcare organizations can only implement patient-centered practice if the people who need it can locate or travel to their facilities. Besides making healthcare accessible, medical administrators are also responsible for helping physicians, nurses, and other personnel understand the importance and benefits of adopting this practice. This means encouraging them to verify medical procedures, check every detail of a patient’s treatment plan and condition, observe care in handling medicines, and work with trusted providers.

For this to work, healthcare administrators must instill the importance of listening to patients in their care team. By listening to patients, frontline care personnel can better understand their situations and create a patient-centered treatment plan. This can be incredibly challenging because the increasing demand for healthcare attention is often enough to shuffle patients. However, this leaves patients little time to explain their situations, which could be critical in finding effective treatment options.

Listening to your patients allows the provider to gain the context of a patient’s life instead of assuming that the entire picture in the laboratory is the entire story. This can be critical, especially if a healthcare organization treats patients from marginalized communities. Often, these groups have specific cultural considerations physicians must consider before proceeding with treatment. When healthcare administrators develop a patient-centered practice, they can ensure medical organizations consider these cultural considerations during treatment and provide a holistic healing process.

Why should you become a healthcare administrator?

Healthcare is already a complex industry. As the demand for it increases, so will the need for influential leaders to help organizations navigate the complexity and challenges of industry and client behavioral changes. Here are reasons why you should pursue a healthcare administration career.

  • It can be rewarding and fulfilling

The absence of rewarding work in daily job duties is a significant reason most American workers feel drained. According to the American Psychology Association, finding meaning in something you do improves job satisfaction and motivation. Working as a healthcare administrator makes you feel part of something bigger than yourself. You can work behind the scenes to ensure the facility runs smoothly or be there for patients’ families as their loved ones endure difficult situations.

You can also be a part of the team that gathers medical records for research and evaluation to identify holes and obstacles in quality. Alternatively, you can handle health information and ensure patients are moved through the care process efficiently. This presents a significant opportunity for you to learn from others, which can be crucial in developing lifelong skills such as keen attention to detail, empathy, stress management, and a positive attitude.

  • More advancement opportunities

The US healthcare job market is exploding, and this upward trend is here to stay. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare-related jobs will increase by 13% from 2019 to 2029. Since healthcare administration careers are grouped into various pathways and specializations, you can gain more opportunities to advance and pursue a career more suitable to your goals.

The job outlook is also strong, which means you’ll always find yourself employed if you have the right qualifications since positions are available that fit multiple skill sets. Part of gaining the right qualifications as a health administrator is earning your degree from a revered academic institution such as the University of Ottawa, wherein you will tackle courses that strengthen your ability to analyze healthcare data, manage financial documents, and make educated business decisions.

  • Competitive salary potential and benefits

Salaries and benefits in the medical sector are almost always better than in other industries because of the continuous demand. Recent data reveals a US healthcare administrator can earn an average base pay of roughly $101,340 annually. Although money is not everything, it can be a significant factor in career-related decisions and smooth work challenges.

You can ask for even higher pay based on your personal and professional goals if you have the right skills and educational qualifications. However, like other professionals, your years of healthcare administration experience and location will assume critical roles in your earning potential in the industry. This is because, as a healthcare administrator, you may use various skills to function successfully in your role.

How to become a healthcare administrator?

Once you’ve decided to become a healthcare administrator, you can begin working toward this goal by pursuing formal education past a high school diploma or GED. At a minimum, most healthcare organizations require you to earn an undergraduate degree in health administration or a related discipline.

After earning your undergraduate degree, you can pursue an advanced degree program or enroll in a certification program to expand your knowledge of the field. Doing so enhances your professional credibility, validates specialized knowledge, and displays superior clinical management experience. In specific markets, certifications and advanced degrees can give you a strategic edge when seeking a position. Some industry certifications you may want to earn include the Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional, the Executive Certification and Professional Certification from the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, and the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality.

Requirements for earning these certifications can differ but may include education, industry work experience, and membership in the certifying organization. Gaining hands-on experience through on-campus or internship programs is also essential in applying your specialized knowledge to work and getting your start in the industry.

Working towards a meaningful career in healthcare administration

Healthcare is one of the rare industries where you can impact thousands of lives. As a healthcare administrator, you will spearhead this movement and empower physicians, nurses, and other healthcare personnel in working towards impacting people’s lives daily.

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