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Five good reasons to run a Quality Circle Programme in your practice
It is increasingly clear that quality management is at its best when the whole team is engaged and understands how their individual role contributes to the overall quality of patient care and – most importantly – to the ‘patient experience’ at your practice.
Spreading the workload of quality creation
With the best will in the world, without the support of their teams, Registered Managers and providers cannot create a workplace environment in which the quality of care is continuously improving. In most professional healthcare practices, the Registered Provider is actively engaged in fee-earning activities, which makes it difficult to keep a watchful eye on the work of each team member – their main priority is quite rightly the patient in your chair. The only way to consistently achieve continuously improving, high quality, well-led care is to ensure that each member is as dedicated to the provision of care excellence as are their leaders and managers.
The background of Quality Standards
The Health and Social Care Act has crafted quality standards to provide the current regulations for healthcare providers. The origins of current quality theories and practice can be traced back to Total Quality Management principles, initiated in the first half of the 20th century in the United States by statistician W. Edwards Deming. These principles evolved further with the input of Japanese industrialists following the end of WWII through processes such as Kaizen (meaning "improvement"). When used in business and applied to the workplace, kaizen refers to activities that aim to continually improve services and involve all employees.
Reason1: Quality Circles create an inclusive, whole team environment
The enduring principle of Quality Management is the creation of working practices that are effective, efficient and continuously improving. Such systems do not develop by luck; they require focused efforts from everyone in the team. Management can direct such efforts by communicating what needs to be done in practice policy; and specifying the most efficient ways to secure the desired results in related procedures. This process does not end when the policies and procedures have been defined and communicated, at this point the Continuously Improving aspect of quality management kicks-in based on the experiences of the system’s users, a quality circle provided channels for the team to feedback and input ideas.
Reason 2: Team perspectives can shape quality improvements
The users of quality management systems include the practice team, who have unique up-close and personal insight of the quality of your practices services; this insight is the cornerstone of quality development. When given an outlet and received with a solution focused mind-set using techniques such as Significant Event Analysis, valuable lessons can be learned from the results of both the team’s triumphs and incidents of underperformance.
Reason 3: Creates productive team relationships
Effective, respectful communication between all parts of the practice is essential for quality development. When the management and dentists are viewed by the DCPs as being distant and remote, it is unlikely that there will be mutual respect and even less likely that different part of the practice team will understand or care about the challenges and frustrations of their colleagues. A quality circle provides chances for all team members to share their experiences.
Reason 4: Provides opportunities to measures performance
Quantity Management has its origins in the theories of Statistician W Edward Deming, so it follows that such a system will seek to understand results, by quantifying and auditing outcomes. This places a duty on the users of the system to keep careful records of activities and their results, at the same time as performing complex, time consuming tasks. Only when they can see the bigger picture of why these records are needed and their place in quality management, are they sure to direct their energy toward tasks that otherwise may appear to simply be excessive bureaucracy.
Reason 5 Encourages personal and professional skills
Personal and professional development is an intrinsic part of the increased knowledge and understanding resulting from the communication processes of Quality Circle meetings. Dental professionals have a responsibility to develop their practise by using reflective skills; the Quality Circle is the ideal format for this valuable learning and development.
If quality management at your practice is something done purely to avoid sanctions from quality inspectors, you probably will not want to introduce Quality Circle Processes, whereas if you have an interest in making your practice the best it can be, then a Quality Circle is a logical step in that direction (if you haven’t already done so).
Glenys Bridges – QCS Expert Dental Contributor