Are YOU changing things for the better?

Most of us arrive in our first ‘real job’ after many years of training. Our collective aim: to improve the lot of our patients. And, happily, we find that we’re quite good at it. Our years of training have paid off – and what we haven’t yet learnt, we acquire as we gain experience. We ‘fix things’. We get good at it… and by ‘it’ I mean the things our patients present to us.

But then we get asked to improve ‘things’ that others present to us: the guideline we’re using, patient triage, early assessment, identification of frailty, referral forms, escalation, handover, sepsis, ward rounds, clinic flow, de-prescribing, pressure ulcers, falls, winter pressures, waiting times, overspends, care plans, pathways….

AND we give it a go. After all, we’ve been improving things for a while now, so why not? If we’re good at fixing our patients, surely we can fix other things for our patients?

This is where we can rapidly become unfixed!

Whilst our confidence may by now have outgrown our expertise when it comes to fixing, we probably don’t know this yet, and nor do most of the people around us!

Even with gentle warnings, it comes as a bit of a shock when we learn this for the first time. It’s difficult to grasp the failure that rapidly becomes apparent when you start to measure improvement. As the mist rises, it’s even harder to come to terms with the realisation of the past failures that we left (unknowingly) in our wake, despite monumental work effort.

On the plus side, this is first step to learning and growing our understanding of what it really takes to make change happen, to ‘do’ improvement well, to ‘sustain’ the gains.

Much like using a proven clinical intervention, using a proven change method to help us fix things can make a real difference to the way we care for our patients and their experience of our care. By starting small we can fail safely and learn fast. We can build on our successes and discard our failures. We can share the task of improvement with our team and grow our confidence that we CAN make a difference.

If you aren’t measuring for improvement, how do you know if you’re changing things for the better?

If you’re curious and serious about adding quality improvement to your toolbox check out the case studies and other good stuff on our website, follow on twitter @ClinicQi, or make contact!