Finding Quality in Our New Normal
During this time of uncertainty, we can use the quality improvement process to help us professionally and personally. Kristen Beatson, our director of electronic measures, reflects on this idea and shares her personal quality improvement plan.
I work in healthcare quality improvement every day, reviewing and discussing data and measurements that can be utilized by hospitals to improve care, but until recently I hadn’t considered how quality improvement applies to life outside of work. We all want to have good quality of life but for the past few weeks, that life has been put on hold, interrupted and for some, altered forever.
I know I’m not alone in my own “new normal.” I haven’t left the house in three weeks. My husband has to be “in the field.” I’m working full time from home while both kids have virtual school and we’re helping a neighbor who is high risk. There are trips to the market and pharmacy that must be planned out, and of course, in between it all, there is sanitizing, sanitizing and more sanitizing. My family, like everyone else, is navigating uncharted waters. The anxiety is overwhelming. How are we are supposed to keep our sanity in check?
The key to this, I think, is improving the quality of our lives, in our new normal. But how do we do that in these circumstances? I’d like you to consider how quality improvement plans and strategies can apply outside of the workforce.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this over the past few days. Consider the steps in a typical quality improvement cycle:
a. What are the opportunities for improvement?
a. How can these items be improved?
a. Implement a plan
a. Is it working?
Seems silly in a way, to use a quality improvement plan in your daily life. But really, you’ve already been doing this without thinking too much about it. Consider this simple example:
I had my annual physical a few months ago and my primary care provider emailed me later to let me know my cholesterol was high. So, guess what I did?
a. I need to lower my cholesterol.
a. I will change my diet, increase my exercise and consider medication.
a. I implemented a vegan diet and now walk two miles per day.
a. I will go back to the doctor for a checkup after six months. If my cholesterol is lower that’s improvement. If it’s higher I need a new plan.
Quality improvement, right?
I know many are attempting to navigate problems much bigger than high cholesterol, but in my analytical opinion, we can use quality as a way of coping personally and professionally.
Whether you are working on the frontlines of this healthcare crisis or behind the scenes in a support role, or even if you are a consumer of healthcare doing your best to not have to use the system, take a moment to think about how quality could improve your life situation right now.
I’ll share my own personal quality improvement strategy, just implemented this week.
a. I am feeling the loss of the many activities that kept me busy, feeling accomplished and fulfilled in my old life.
a. Fill the calendar with meaningful activities.
i. Go for a daily one-hour walk
ii. Eat dinner together as a family every night
iii. Work in the garden three days a week
a. Initiate the plan on Sunday 3/29
b. Add all items with estimated times to whiteboard calendar (yes, I’m old school)
c. Use Garmin for all walking
a. How am I feeling? Check in with myself by journaling and/or calling a friend
b. Track steps/distance/time walking
Not everything will go according to plan of course. There are disruptions and events that require me to change my direction and ignore that item on the whiteboard. But I’m finding, if I can manage to accomplish a few of the meaningful activities I’ll take that as improving the quality of my life.
As you think about the changes that have occurred and the life you’re living now, you may find quality is still there, it just looks a little different.
Kristen Beatson is the Director of Electronic Measures of Medisolv, Inc.