It is well documented that Australia’s population is ageing. By 2020, it is estimated that 15%–20% of the population will be aged 70 years or over. As people are living longer they have a greater chance of being exposed to the risks that can lead to the development of chronic disease. Currently chronic disease contributes to over 70% of the disease burden in Australia.
Governments and health care providers have become increasingly concerned about this steady increase in demand for health care and our capacity as a nation to provide quality services to meet this demand. Increasing demand for all types of medical services will exceed capacity if existing services are not modified.
Collectively we need to design and implement strategies that help maintain good health, prevent illness, and intervene quickly and effectively when ill health occurs. Strategies that reduce the burden of illness in our community, rather than just provide more care, are essential.
“Continuous Quality Improvement
Actually Doing and Improving.”
THE THREE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS FOR ACHIEVING IMPROVEMENTS
Consider using three fundamental questions for achieving improvement:
1. What are we trying to accomplish?
This question is intended to help clarify the improvements that are to be made, the results to be obtained and what these changes would look like. Having a clear vision of your aims is crucial.
2. How will we know that a change is an improvement?
Without measurement it is impossible to know whether an improvement has occurred. As a team, think about how you want things to be different when you have implemented your change and agree on which data you need to collect to measure it. You can do this in terms of the way in which your results or outcomes might be different, how the services that your patients receive will be better, or how your processes might change.
3. What changes can we make that can lead to an improvement?
Finally, what changes are needed in order to achieve the results you are seeking. What evidence do you have from elsewhere about what is most likely to work? What do you and your team think is a good idea? What have other people done that you could try?
Q1. What Changes are we trying to Accomplish (Goal)?
Our Goal is:
In three months, we will help 20 patients to stop smoking
Q2. How will we know that a change is an improvement (measure)?
We will Measure:
- The baseline number of patients recorded as current smokers in the practice
- The number of patients recorded as current smokers in the practice each month, and in three months’ time.
Q3. What changes can we make that will lead to an improvement (ideas)?
- Identify and flag all current smokers
- Create reminders for practice staff to ask all patients if they currently smoke
- Include “Quit” information in the waiting room and treatment room
- Offer smokers the appropriate cessation medication
- Set up SMS reminders to support and motivate patients
- Refer patients to self-help groups