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What does healthcare improvement look like in 2024 and beyond?

Team smiling and trying to create healthcare improvement

The healthcare industry has faced many new challenges in recent years. How does this seemingly ever-changing landscape impact healthcare improvement in 2024 and beyond?

Based on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement 2023 Forum, quality improvement, safety and culture, equity and a functional delivery system remain top priorities across sectors. This was reflected in the forum agenda, which included 10 tracks and a scientific symposium with three primary focus areas:

  1. Quality: Addressing value, cost and quality; diagnostic excellence and improvement science
  2. Culture and safety: Building capability, leadership, workforce well-being and patient and workforce safety
  3. Patient focus: Equity, person-centered care and population health

Since DataGen participated, we’ll give you some exclusive insight into what was discussed so you can better understand what’s driving healthcare in the new year.

The future of healthcare improvement: 4 major insights

1. Quality requires a systems approach

There is a constant challenge in healthcare: how to operationalize strategy to achieve quality improvement. One answer is a systems approach, which involves sharing evidence-based best practices in a persistent, coordinated way across stakeholder groups. The importance of a systems approach — particularly for care redesign — will be critical to address persistent problems and create sustainable solutions.   

While value-based care has been a part of healthcare for more than a decade, stakeholders continue to debate the link between quality and value and how to improve it. Sessions at the IHI Forum stressed an expanded definition of value that includes:

  • maximizing workforce capacity and professional development;
  • expanding interdisciplinary collaboration; and
  • improving the patient experience.

These intersection points will be necessary for value-based care to lower healthcare costs and improve outcomes and efficiency.

2. Safety intersects with quality, culture and patient-centeredness

Multiple IHI Forum sessions stressed the importance of the National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety, which provides “clear direction for making significant advances toward safer care and reduced harm across the continuum of care.” Created by the IHI and nearly 30 public and private stakeholder groups, the NAP includes four key areas:

  • culture, leadership and governance;
  • patient and family engagement;
  • workforce safety; and
  • learning system.

The IHI notes these areas as essential and interdependent to achieve total systems safety.

3. Workforce well-being cannot ignore the fundamentals

To improve quality and safety, providers must improve culture. Technology, data and artificial intelligence dominate healthcare headlines. But one thing is clear: these tools can support, but never replace, the fundamentals of workplace culture. This includes communication, collaboration and education ― and the values that underlie them: trust, kindness and an abiding commitment to patients and their families.

4. Equity is finding its business case

One of the IHI Forum sessions stated what has become obvious: "Addressing clinical outcomes through the lens of race and ethnicity is not engrained in how we have historically viewed quality of care."

But how do providers change this?

Multiple IHI sessions stressed the importance of a define-measure-improve framework that emphasizes not only clinical outcomes but also patient experience. Providers can use electronic health record data stratified by key process indicators to:

  • create and prioritize business use cases;
  • improve processes in care delivery that contribute to disparities; and
  • analyze outcomes, drivers and findings to improve outcomes.

As with workplace culture, equity efforts must marry operations and culture, and ask not only "What is our business case?" but "What is our ethical and moral imperative?"

The healthcare of the future

Beyond these broader themes, the IHI Forum agenda stressed three delivery system areas that will continue to be the focus of quality and safety improvement: primary care, maternal health and diagnostics. Also key to healthcare's future is what it can continue to learn from other sectors, such as technology and manufacturing.

DataGen's Culture of Safety Insights supports the healthcare frameworks of the future. Contact us today to learn more or request a free demo.

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