The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Healthcare Quality Leaders
What are the hallmarks of a highly effective healthcare quality leader? At Medisolv, one of the things we’re most proud of is that our clients continue to outperform the national average on nearly every electronic measure. They’re clearly doing something right—and we wanted to know exactly what that something is. So, we asked our Medisolv Clinical Quality Advisors to pull out their magnifying glasses, do a little field research, and bring us a list of effective leadership traits that they witness across hospitals every day. Here are 7 of the winners...how many of them are you already doing?
#1: Monitor your data weekly
An effective healthcare quality leader is a master at avoiding surprises. That means having eyes on your measures all the time. Look for discrepancies each week, so that you can catch them—and diagnose them—immediately. Maybe it’s a technical error that’s a relatively quick fix. But just as often it’s a process issue that requires hammering out a new workflow with your nurse managers or getting in front of your providers with additional education. These are issue that can take time to remedy, and you want to be on top of them all year long—especially now that CMS requires you to submit all 4 quarters of your performance year data for your selected measures.
#2: Have a cheat sheet for each measure
CMS measure specifications are designed, they claim, to be “human readable” but they are really a complex maze of technical documentation to sift through. At Medisolv, we give our clients workflow cheat sheets for each measure that captures exactly what they need to know about the measure’s specifications in a glance. This makes everything—from troubleshooting to staff education—infinitely faster and easier.
If your vendor doesn’t have measure cheat sheets that you can use, spend the little bit of time it takes to create them in-house. There are a ton of resources, including free webinars from CMS, the Joint Commission, and even Medisolv’s own Education Center—that can help you capture the essentials for each measure. It will save you so much time in the long run.
#3: Always say “yes!” to voluntary reporting periods
When CMS offers up a voluntary reporting period for a new measure, take it. Start working on implementation as soon as the specifications are available. This gives you time to get your processes and documentation in place, your staff and providers educated, and your data to a point where you’re either 1) happy with your performance or 2) know exactly what you need to do to improve. Plus, there are no repercussions for submitting your performance results during a voluntary reporting period, so there’s really nothing to lose—only valuable data to gain.
#4: Don’t be afraid to admit when a measure isn’t right for you.
As you study your performance results, you will invariably find there are certain measures you have the most success in...and those you don’t. That’s perfectly normal. Nearly every hospital has their quality measure shortcomings—and the best hospitals know when to let go and move on.
Evaluate your measures to see if there are any “lost causes” that aren’t worth pursuing any further. Focus your attention, instead, on the measures you think are the best and most accurate reflection of your hospital’s clinical quality. It will be a better use of your hospital’s resources and expertise and a huge burden off your staff’s shoulders.
#5: Give CMS your feedback on measure specs
If you come from the clinical side (which most quality leaders do), you might run into elements within a measure specification that don’t make clinical sense or don’t align with clinical workflow. Unfortunately, you have to follow the eCQM specifications in order to successfully submit and meet requirements. So, what’s a quality leader to do? Submit a JIRA ticket to CMS.
JIRA tickets allow you to share questions and concerns you have on eCQM data elements, logic issues or measure implementation, with CMS, even after a measure is out of development and firmly entrenched in its regulatory programs. CMS reviews your feedback and replies to each ticket. There have been measure specifications that were updated in subsequent years due to the frontline feedback from leaders like you.
#6: Take the frontline’s pulse regularly and stay flexible
You already place a high value on collaboration. After all, you rely on it daily with your clinicians to get the quality job done. But the most effective healthcare quality leaders also know how to preserve that spirit of collaboration by regularly checking in with the frontline staff, especially as they’re building new initiatives.
We all get excited about a new project, but if you sense a lot of pushback and stress from nurses and providers, take a beat and assess what the real priority is and what a more realistic timeline might be. Would an extra 30 days help everyone out? Is there anything you can change to decrease the burden on your nurses by just 5%? Flexibility can ensure your great ideas still get through, whereas pushing too hard is a surefire path to failure.
#7: Sharpen your saw (a.k.a. self-care!!!)
This is actually one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and, with the increasing rate of nursing burnout today, this one matters to effective healthcare leaders now more than ever. You have more on your plate than ever before, and the job of quality improvement can feel never-ending. Be a champion for physical, mental, and emotional wellness for yourself, your teams, and your hospital. It will not only make you better, but it will also help you prevent turnover in the clinical teams you rely on every day. It can be as simple as taking a walk at lunch or making sure you actually use your vacation days. But the cliché is a cliché for a reason: you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself.
Bonus Habit: Talk to a Medisolv Clinical Quality Advisor whenever you get stuck
Don’t forget that Medisolv’s Clinical Quality Advisors can be your go-to resource whenever you have a question, a troubleshooting issue, or a CMS regulation that requires human translation (isn’t that all of them??). Each Medisolv Clinical Quality Advisor has worked, on average, 15 years in healthcare settings, so they understand your challenges—and how to conquer them—better than anyone. Contact us to learn how you can get a Medisolv Clinical Quality Advisor in your corner today.
More Healthcare Leadership Resources to Explore:
- Tool: 2023 Quality Reporting Bundle
- Article: How to Prevent Nurse Burnout – Quality Improvement Tips
- Article: 15 Must-Read Books for Healthcare Quality Leaders
- Solution: Learn More about Medisolv Clinical Quality Advisors
Medisolv Can Help
Along with award-winning software, each client receives a dedicated Clinical Quality Advisor that helps you with your technical and clinical needs.
We consistently hear from our clients that the biggest differentiator between Medisolv and other vendors is the level of one-of-one support. Especially if you use an EHR vendor right now, you’ll notice a huge difference.
Erin Heilman is the Vice President of Marketing for Medisolv, Inc.