Quality Improvement(QI), such a vague term; most people think of quality control, they think about double checking your work and making sure that you have not made any mistakes. My job, however, is a little different. I have the opportunity to analyze the current clinic services that we provide to all patients and ensure that we are doing everything possible to improve patient care and ultimately the lives of those we serve. My official title is Quality Improvement and Population Health Coordinator at Banner University Family and Community Medicine Clinic. Health Care can be messy business; it can be complicated and political; full of big words and cold buildings. The providers, staff and nurses at my clinic, are trying to make this process as seamless as possible.
How do we make this the best experience possible for our patients, you ask? Well, we start by checking our work (but not for everything wrong, but for everything right we are doing! Woohoo! Looking at the positive!). During my initial 5 months at the clinic, I have been able to observe the clinical workflow and determine everything we are doing right and then work with every staff, provider and nurse at the clinic to make it even better or even expand the services we are already providing. My job consists of developing reports (full of life and color, I might add) based on our Quality Measures (cancer prevention and screenings, maternal child health, diabetes management and complications prevention, immunizations and vaccination, and behavioral health). These reports are then reviewed by our QI team and we develop new strategies to improve our services. New strategies are implemented in the clinic and we observe our services improve, plateau or decline with every 6 month data period and adjust our action plan as necessary.
What’s so cool about this whole quality improvement project and team is that not a lot of people are doing this in the health care field. The current health care system is a very reactive model (at no fault to providers or clinics; our whole system is set up to be secondary to illness instead of proactive. Insurance, payers and government systems do no support proactive, preventative medicine). QI looks at how we can better serve our patients and improve their health. Family medicine, especially, needs to change to a model that prioritizes preventative measures to improve and diminish chronic illnesses for patients. Majority of our patients have some variation of a chronic illness, whether it be Type 2 diabetes or pain management, they utilize our services, but we can’t help but ask, how many of these illnesses could have been prevented? While QI is definitely not the solution, it is the beginning of a change initiative that will help develop new procedures and expectations of our current system and eventually lead to a proactive, preventative system of health care.
By Betsy Sorensen, 2nd Year Vista a Banner University Family Medicine Clinic