The needs of patients are constantly changing.
Patients who once would have been hospitalized for weeks are instead receiving home care and outpatient services to address their medical issues.
Many healthcare systems now see patients in a variety of settings, and it's in the patient's and the healthcare organization's best interests to deliver excellent care at every level.
However, ensuring that patients receive excellent care across the continuum can be a real challenge for even the biggest and best healthcare systems.
Leaders in healthcare understand that increased continuity of care can help to reduce readmissions, mitigate risks related to decreased reimbursement, and lead to greater patient satisfaction. Because this is well known, the question becomes not why we should focus on improving care across the continuum but rather how.
A simple yet effective strategy: a strong clinical competency plan
While there are several strategies that can improve patient care across the continuum, one of the simplest and often overlooked ways is having a strong clinical competency plan.
Many healthcare organizations have a cumbersome paper clinical competency assessment process and a series of spreadsheets to track clinical competencies among nurses and other clinical staff.
Adding anything into clinical competencies requirements may get lost in the shuffle of all the paperwork.
Improve clinical competency assessment processes by getting rid of the paper
But the clinical competency process doesn't have to require piles of paper and manual tracking. There is great value to clinical competencies, but there is little value in tracking them on paper. At some point hospital administrators will question the effectiveness of paper methods, look for ways to reduce and eliminate paper while thinking "There has just got to be a better way."
There is a better way: automate the process. By having a computer-based method to track the clinical skills of your nursing staff, you'll be able to better see who is and is not trained to focus on critical patient care issues. For example, Halogen Software offers a solution that can help with the management of the clinical competency assessment process making it completely automated and considerably more streamlined that most other methods.
This is especially helpful when your organization has staff in many different areas and functions.
Supporting nurses in delivering high quality care
Nurses want to do a good job and deliver the care and education that patients need but sometimes they just don't receive the training and skill check-offs needed to do this correctly. What they learned in nursing school many years ago won't always be the standard.
And sometimes even the most highly skilled nurses forget to renew their licenses.
If you're tracking this sort of data manually, then it might be weeks before this kind of oversight is caught! Imagine the headache involved with correcting it.
Frequent training and reevaluation of nursing skills, education levels, and licensures can make a big impact in how patients are cared for through transitions in care.
Standards of care change frequently, and clinical staff need to be in the know in order to meet the changing needs of the patients they serve.
It's not enough to assume you're nurses are doing a good job, you need to make sure you are giving them right tools to succeed. You need to be able to track in real time who has completed required training and who has not. You certainly can't do that with paper.
Your Turn: What other tips do you have on how to make clinical competency assessments meaningful and manageable?