Patient care objectives outline how a medical practice commits to the treatment of their patients and are a critical component to defining and executing a medical practice’s mission. Patient care objectives can can focus on a number of patient-facing contributors to experience, like communication, professionalism, or other pillars of success. When considering objectives that affect the quality of patient care, however, things like patient identification, security, or appropriate treatment are most important.
Setting appropriate objectives and fulfilling them ensures that your practice is, above all, is a safe place for patients to receive treatment. Meeting those objectives also has longstanding impact on patient retention and volume of referrals. Therefore, clear and appropriate patient care objectives are critical to your clinic’s success. Below we’ve outlined a set of tips that will help your practice set patient care objectives in your practice.
1. Follow a “patient first” mentality.
At their core, patient care objectives should be centered around the providing the best possible care for patients. While it can be tempting to focus on how enacting these objectives may impact the clinic, chasing after revenue goals ultimately ends in distraction. To achieve the best possible outcome for patients, providers, and the clinic, make sure your objectives answer one question: “Will this keep my patients safe and satisfied?”
2. Make them clear and measurable.
In the business world, enterprises use a framework called SMART goals to ensure that goals are specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time-bound. Patient care objectives should follow a similar framework to ensure that they are effective and enduring. Think of how you can incorporate patient satisfaction surveys to measure your success. Healthcare staff can also set up an internal audit process for ongoing checks on EHR integrity (duplicate records are merged or eliminated, information is complete and up-to-date with the patient’s last visit, etc.).
3. Identify where your practice will need to enact change.
Unsurprisingly, setting your patient care objectives may point out certain deficiencies with current systems, processes, or staff. In order to appropriately execute on these objectives, your clinic will need to outline projects for implementing these changes alongside patient care objectives, and for managing change. Here are some examples of areas you may find room for improvement:
- Systems — EHR solutions, patient identification tools, devices, etc.
- Processes — patient registration and discharge, office setup, etc.
- Staff — professionalism, communication skills, bedside manner, etc.
A good place to start when assessing these factors is the training process for newly hired clinical staff. What procedures are reviewed? Do they understand the clinic’s mission? Is a knowledge check performed to see if they are familiar with the technologies used in the office? If any of these questions go unanswered, you have an opportunity to align and train your staff, leading to improvements in your care delivery.
4. Build processes for ongoing accountability.
If your organization doesn’t commit to enforcing patient care objectives, change will never be implemented by your care providers and clinical staff. When you initially set your list of objectives, follow up by building processes for internal performance measurement and hold staff accountable. Encourage staff to come forward when they feel that these objectives are not being met, regardless of where in the clinic these gaps are coming from.
Patient identification and registration are core to properly executing against patient care objectives. Conversely, patient misidentification can drastically impact a clinic’s reputation, finances, and patient retention. For more information on the consequences of patient misidentification, download this free whitepaper.