A quality improvement (QI) professional works with other professionals in their field to make changes that will help them produce their best possible product or service.
Something like improving customer service is an example of QI work. You’ll need to look outside your profession for these collaborations, though!
By incorporating ways to improve the way you do your job, you’re also looking to improve how well you do yours. This is called internalization.
Quality practitioners have coined a new term — quality technology — to describe this process.
They believe that every workplace has access to powerful tools that can be used to strengthen employees’ performance and contribute to organizational success. These tools include things such as reward systems, communication channels, and data collection and analysis strategies.
What are some examples of quality technologies?
You may know of some already: Performance reviews, goal setting, and regular check-ins are just a few. More advanced applications use statistical analyses and studies to inform decision making, and they compare employee outcomes to similar groups of people to determine what factors lead to successful experiences.
These types of tools can be integrated into daily routines or done at special events or times. Either way, there should be no excuse for not using one!
The QIT team here at Merck would love to see our colleagues enjoy coming to work.
The scientific method
What is quality improvement (QI) technology? That’s a great question! And it takes us back to our starting point, which is what makes something good or bad depends on how you compare it to something else.
In this case, we are comparing QI technologies with non-QI technologies. Non-quality improvement (non-QI) technologies are things that do not work as well as they could because people who designed them did not include features that would make them more effective.
For example, your average water bottle does a decent job of keeping you hydrated, but it is hard to take extra care of yourself while using it, so you often forget to rehydrate properly. More advanced bottles have valves and/or special tubing, but they are expensive and sometimes difficult to find.
Quality improvement (QI) technologies, by contrast, are designed with these types of limitations in mind. They are usually much less expensive, easier to use, and provide better long term benefits than their counterparts. This makes them worth investing in even if you never use a lot of the products themselves.
There are many different kinds of QI technologies, some focused on wellness (health improving practices like yoga or weight loss programs), others on specific areas like nutrition or skin care, and still others on general productivity or organizational tools.
What are control groups?
Control groups are an important tool in quality improvement (QI). They come from what is called the experimental-controls framework, which was first described by psychologist Walter B. Cannon almost 100 years ago!
The term “experimental” refers to the fact that we use these groups to test whether or not some intervention works. By comparing the results with a similar group that does not get the intervention, we can determine if there is any effect of the intervention.
If you’ve ever received a new employee package at work, you’ve used control groups before. That pack usually includes things like your computer software, phone charger cords, and other small items needed for the job. You compare those materials with what you already have and see how much you need of each one.
In QI, we use this same concept in different ways. One example is using patient surveys to assess the effectiveness of a health care service. For instance, asking patients whether they feel their doctor listens well to them and asks appropriate questions is a way to evaluate how good a doctor is.
By doing this for several doctors, you get a sense of what people say about their clinicians. These word-to-word comparisons help us identify whether certain features are important to patients.
A major cause of poor-quality health care is measurement bias. This occurs when we as healthcare professionals subconsciously or consciously influence our measurements, creating skewed results that do not accurately represent what actually happens in the clinic.
For example, if your doctor notices you are looking very pale, he may check your blood work to see if you have low levels of vitamin D or iron, both of which can affect how well your body absorbs other nutrients.
By doing this, he may neglect to check whether you are eating enough food, which could be another factor limiting your nutrient absorption.
This offends against one of his main duties as a physician — to help you achieve optimal health by ensuring you are eating adequate nutrition.
Another example of measurement bias comes from medical professionals using different equipment for measuring the same thing. For instance, if your doctor uses an expensive piece of testing equipment to measure your cholesterol, he may not also use less expensive ones, even though they should give similar results.
There are several confounding factors when it comes to using technology for quality improvement. Funding can be an issue, especially in larger organizations where there may not be enough money to implement all of these tools.
Another factor is that some people just do not like technology. This includes having access to technology at work, as well as outside of work. Some people feel that techies have too much influence in corporations, or even believe they are taking away jobs from non-tech professionals.
Some individuals fear loss of privacy due to technological advances, or worry about oversharing information due to the ease of communication via social media. Others may feel that the use of technology takes time away from things that matter most such as family, friends, and hobbies.
These are only some examples of why technology can be difficult to use. What matters is how you use it!”
Editor’s note: Following his advice will take more than simply installing apps onto your device. Here are our top 10 tips for improving your smartphone skills.
Just because it’ll help doesn’t mean it will
Many people these days have access to technology that can aid in their personal wellness. There are apps for just about anything, from weight loss to stress management to sleep regulation.
Mostly what I refer to as quality improvement (QI) technologies are marketed towards helping you “improve your health” or “get healthier.” They all claim they can measure something important like blood glucose levels, track physical activity, monitor heart rate, and so on.
Usually, however, none of those things matter much beyond confirming what most people already know: You’re probably not living at a healthy level.
That is totally normal and understandable. We live in an overstimulated environment with too many factors likely influencing our overall health status.
And yes, having more data to compare against means we’re exposed to potentially worse situations than others who may be less aware of how sick they could get.
Improve quality and safety
As mentioned before, technology can play an important role in improving patient outcomes by helping to ensure that the right treatments are given at the right time for the correct condition. This is called precision or accuracy medicine because it focuses not only on whether you have a good treatment response but also on which specific treatments work for you as a person.
This has become increasingly possible due to two things: advances in medical science and the availability of large amounts of data. Using these tools, doctors can perform early diagnosis, determine the best course of action, monitor effectiveness and reduce risk through informed choice.
For example, heart disease and stroke cause around 7 million deaths every year worldwide. By detecting changes in blood pressure, cholesterol or glucose levels using sensitive tests, we’re able to identify people who are at high risk and treat them accordingly.
We now have such a wide variety of technologies available that help us measure almost any aspect of our health — from looking inside your body to see how well your organs are working to checking food intake and digestion to observing sleep patterns and stress levels. All of this information can be used to diagnose and manage diseases and improve overall wellness.
Technically, you can do this with or without technology, but using technology to reduce cost is much more efficient and effective than doing it manually or non-techally. With the right software, you can save money in additional staff members’ wages spent managing and keeping track of processes and procedures that have been streamlined through automation.
Office efficiency apps like Slack, Teams, and Google Apps make working together as a team easier by replacing formal meeting rooms and email threads for chat groups and threaded conversations.
Apps such as Asana and Trello help employees collaborate effectively by creating shared workspaces where each member has their own space to organize and access information.
These types of applications eliminate wasted time due to miscommunication and clutter caused by documents and notes being spread across different areas.
Use data to make informed decisions
One of the biggest reasons why people get stuck in bad habits is because they believe that they are already doing their best, so there is no need to try harder.
For example, someone who eats poorly might not feel like eating food that they know is poor for them, so they may keep putting more junk food in their mouth.
By having enough nutrients, you will be functioning at a lower level, which means things can’t start working properly and your body has to work extra hard to stay healthy.
It’s similar with other harmful behaviors. People may think that what they are doing is okay, so they don’t see any reason to change how they are acting.
If you want to achieve something meaningful, you have to realize that it is never too late to start. You will always have one chance to give your life an improved quality, so you should strive to do good every day.