The healthcare industry has seen numerous innovations and technological advancements in recent years, but ensuring patient safety, at the local, regional, national and global level remains a stubbornly vexing challenge.
So many statistics illustrate the story of struggles with patient safety within healthcare and it can be challenging to make sense of all the numbers. Here are a couple of the most pertinent:
- An estimated 3 million medication errors are made in Irish hospitals per year, one per patient, per day according to a report by the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA)
- Across the EU each year, 100,000 people die as a result of an avoidable mistake during medical treatment.
Global patient safety statistics are also alarming. According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
- One in every 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care, with nearly 50% of these adverse events considered preventable.
- Recent evidence suggests that 134 million adverse events occur each year due to unsafe care in hospitals in developing nations, resulting in 2.6 million deaths.
- More than 1 million patients die annually from complications due to surgery. Globally, surgery still results in high rates of illness, disease and death.
Addressing the Issues
For healthcare organisations, addressing issues with patient safety or medical errors can consume countless hours and resources, with very little return on investment. Many – though certainly not all – of these issues can be improved by implementing the right technology and safety modules.
The following is RLDatix’s prescription for improving patient safety, data sharing and patient experience along with a description of the role our solutions play in addressing these issues.
- Patient Safety Incidents: Though most healthcare organisations take many precautions, medical errors are still bound to occur. Before they do, it is critical that organisations design a comprehensive and explicit plan for fixing adverse events and investigating the causes. The RLDatix Incidents module supports the submission of incident reports from a variety of settings, including clinical units, outpatient facilities, physician practices and independent contractors. The RLDatix online incident reporting form delivers simplicity of use, enabling any staff member to report an event. Individual organisations can personalise the forms and amend workflows to match their preference and organisational structures. Whilst an automated link to the Enterprise Risk Manager and Investigations modules allow for risks to be identified and mitigated and investigations into contributory factors to be initiated.
- Data Sharing and Storage: Too many healthcare organisations rely on antiquated, subpar information technology systems to store and share essential patient data, reducing accuracy and efficiency. The RLDatix Business Intelligence tool allows easy triangulation and manipulation of data, even by those with no analytical experience, to better understand themes, trends and to easily identify areas for improvement. The ability to create multiple dynamic reports and scheduling means information and data can be efficiently shared across a healthcare organisations, encouraging engagement with quality improvement processes.
- Patient & Stakeholder Feedback: Greater patient satisfaction often leads to greater feelings of well-being. The RLDatix Feedback module provides healthcare organisations with the tools needed to capture and actively listen to feedback from patient and stakeholders, making it easier to identify areas for improvement and allowing timely and relevant feedback to inform improvement actions to be taken. Encouraging event feedback will broaden engagement with quality improvement processes, making it easier to identify areas where patient safety and quality can be improved.
Global Patient Safety Initiatives
The initiatives and solutions described above can be expanded globally. As outlined by WHO, “Investment in patient safety can lead to significant financial savings. This is because the cost of prevention is typically much lower than the cost of treatment due to harm.” The organisation also says that, if done well, patient safety can be less costly and provide value by reducing the burden of harm by up to 15%. This could also save billions each year.
RLDatix has the experience and capabilities to capture data, track incidents and employ technologies in various countries throughout the world. By collating local data to inform nationwide improvements we can improve quality and patient safety. This is especially important as we collaborate at global, regional and national levels with health systems as they advance their investments in technology solutions.
The Joint Commission International has established several goals for patient safety, including: Identifying them correctly; improving communication, improving safety and reducing the risks of harms and infections. A holistic and comprehensive approach to patient safety developed by global policymakers and incorporating the issues—and solutions—herein will go a long way to engage and protect patients, as well as improve outcomes for millions of patients.