A new series of joint papers is to be launched by the BMJ and Health Foundation which aims to improve the quality of healthcare delivery.
This series will discuss the evidence for systematic quality improvement and provide knowledge and support to clinicians, as well as ultimately helping to improve overall healthcare delivery for patients.
Dr Jennifer Dixon, the Health Foundation’s chief executive, said: “Stories of a disordered system abound in healthcare. If this is to change then more clinicians need to view their role as bigger than just treating the patient in front of them.”
“Design improvements to services”
To launch the new series, Dixon and colleagues produced an editorial which outlines their belief that just as doctors learn to assess, diagnose and treat clinical conditions, “they also need to learn how to design improvements to services, including communicating and negotiating better within and beyond their teams on the best way forward.”
They explained that the focus is not to turn doctors into managers but to give legitimacy to the role of the clinician in order to improve the quality of services and “to equip doctors and other clinicians with formal skills to do it”.
They argue that medical training “still does not help enough doctors to develop these skills”.
Quality improvement is a priority
Dixon discussed the urgency for quality improvement, adding: “Because of past efforts and the obvious current level of interest, this agenda of developing quality improvement activity has now reached tipping point in the UK.
“There is a huge opportunity now to embed it into the NHS as part of everyday work, an opportunity which should be grasped now, especially if there is a ten-year settlement for the NHS in the offing, as announced recently by the prime minister.”
In a linked editorial, BMJ patient partners Anya De Longh and Sibylle Erdmann give a patient perspective on what better healthcare delivery looks like.
They say quality improvement in healthcare “is a team effort and most effective when it includes people using services and their carers, families, and advocates”.
Offering new ideas
The editorial explains that living through illness gives individuals a unique insight of enormous value into quality improvement efforts on both a personal and organisational level, saying: “These efforts must recognise the qualitative nature of patient experience and give it equal priority with the experience of healthcare professionals providing clinical services.”
Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief at the BMJ, concluded: “Doctors have always worked to improve the quality of the care they give. But their focus and training has been on managing individual patients. This series offers new ideas and skills so doctors can feel empowered to change the system in which they work, to build effective teams, and to work with patients to deliver better, safer care.”
Press release: The BMJ