Ogie Sheehy, Founder & CEO ViClarity
As healthcare continues to change, healthcare providers face a constant struggle to ensure quality improvement programmes are in place and are working sufficiently. It is estimated that hospitals must meet 341 healthcare compliance requirements annually. While these regulatory requirements are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of patients, they come with a very high cost to healthcare providers. The American Hospital Alliance outlines that the healthcare industry spends about €35 billion annually on the administrative facets of regulatory compliance and 80% of the cost associated is driven by staff salaries who are in compliance functions either directly (employed in a quality role) or indirectly (nurses completing compliance audits).
One of the key areas that drive up the cost of quality improvement programmes is that the majority of healthcare facilities are using manual methods such as paper/excel audits or old legacy systems for carrying out compliance audits and quality checks. These outdated methods are time consuming, provide no audit trail and are difficult to manage. This leads to administrators spending most of their time trying to collect and collate an abundance of information to complete audits rather than analysing what is actually going wrong. When you take into account other areas outside of compliance that are carried out manually such as incident reporting, risk management, policy management and other daily tasks, the time spent collecting and collating data can spiral out of control and warning signs can be missed due to the non-identification of issues early on.
Quality improvement programmes can be complex but, from our experience in the sector we have seen many organisations decrease the burden by automating certain areas within their quality improvement programme. For example, we have seen numerous hospitals and nursing home groups choosing to automate their auditing and compliance programmes for regulations from HIQA, CQC, JCI, the Mental Health Commission and more. By turning to automation, these groups now have staff members filling out audits on computers, tablets and smartphones while on the wards or across homes and this data is collected and automatically displayed on centralised management dashboards. The centralisation of the data makes it much easier to aggregate data in live roll up views across groups and present reports to management on live dashboards. As data is inputted weekly, trends can be identified, issues can be recognized and corrective actions set before the issues become a problem.
The results of automation are clear for all to see, in one instance a hospital group found that across their hospitals they saved 2,976 hours a year by automating their compliance auditing to HIQA regulations. Prior to automation the group were using paper-based methods but by turning to an automated solution they cut out the chasing of data through email and automated the collection and reporting of compliance information.
We’ve also seen automation in the areas of incident management where the time lag between an incident occurring and being fully reported on has been cut by up to 60%. Other areas where automation has been successful includes the automation of policy updates & staff sign offs, risk management including risk registers and the testing of controls and also the management of outsourced providers.
ViClarity is an award-winning audit, risk and compliance tool that enables healthcare facilities to effectively identify, monitor, score and report on Risk & Compliance. Our process is used daily in multiple healthcare organisations and as a result, has been subject to many successful HIQA and JCI inspections to date. We are currently working with multiple public and private hospitals across Ireland and the UK as well as over 300 nursing home and homecare facilities.