It's important that doctors at all stages of their career and in all departments can keep a track of their performance. This not only helps them identify the areas where they can improve, but also ensures that patient care is maintained to a high standard.
Modern physicians use a variety of methods to help them track and evaluate the standard of care they have given to patients. However, a new set of guidelines from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) aims to make this easier for medical professionals, and enable them to understand the quality of care that they and their team provide.
Its work - Acute Care Toolkit 11: Using data to improve care - contains a description of the main types of data, how they should and should not be interpreted, and how they can be used to improve care for patients.
The guidance encourages doctors to focus on collecting, analysing and using qualitative data in their own practice, as most quantitative data is not really useful at individual clinician level. This includes learning from clinical incidents and complaints, using feedback from staff and colleagues, reviewing the case notes of patients who have died, taking part in local and national audits, and organising ‘look back and learn’ meetings.
Dr Ben Bray, quality improvement fellow in the RCP’s Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation unit (CEEU) and toolkit author said: "Using data effectively is becoming an increasingly important skill for physicians and this toolkit will help clinicians in finding, understanding and using healthcare data to make improvements in the care that patients receive."
Although not intended as a comprehensive guide to using data, the toolkit is a startpoint for action for all physicians, and even includes a glossary of explained term. It also contains references so that doctors can follow up the suggestions in more detail in the source documents.
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