Quality is the best policy

Saving time saves lives’ project takes Netcare 911 all the way to Paris

Thursday, May 22 2014

As anyone at Netcare 911 will tell you, saving time in getting to the scene of a medical emergency saves lives. A project conceptualised and implemented in Netcare 911’s emergency operations centre (EOS), which harnesses technology to improve efficiencies in responding to calls for emergency medical assistance, won in Netcare’s 2013 Quality Leadership Awards. This project was one of the 120 submissions in Netcare’s annual Quality Leadership Awards, which sees teams from every Netcare division enter quality and systems innovations projects they have undertaken to improve the quality of care provided to patients.

The winning project recently took the leader of the winning team, Craig Grindell, chief operating officer for Netcare 911, all the way to Paris where he participated in the 19th International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare. Over 3 000 healthcare leaders from over 80 countries converged under the theme "Strive for Excellence. Seek Value.Spark a Revolution.".
“Building an organisational culture of sustainable quality improvement is a dynamic and continuous process, which is reflected in the fact that Netcare holds these awards annually. We believe that healthcare systems should aim to create more value and consequently we have focused on three critical objectives simultaneously, namely improving health outcomes, enhancing patient experience and reducing or at least controlling the per capita cost of healthcare,” says Dr Dena van den Berg, director: quality leadership at Netcare.

“Known as the strategic triple aim, this approach serves as the foundational principle and philosophy for Netcare’s work in quality leadership improvement. We wish to congratulate the Netcare 911 team, the runners-up, Maletje Griesel from Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital and Annatjie Demetriou from Netcare Kingsway Hospital, as well as all the teams who undertook and entered quality improvement projects, for their dedication and commitment to this process,” explains Dr Van den Bergh.

An important aspect of Netcare’s ongoing quality enhancement is harnessing the talent and knowledge of leadership, frontline staff and students. “In order for Netcare to effectively implement high-impact healthcare improvement initiatives, staff involvement is key. Committed and bold staff members at all levels of our organisation lead these initiatives, act as motivators for implementation and pilot new thinking and solutions through their teams,” adds Dr Van den Bergh.

This element of staff involvement was highlighted in the winning Netcare 911 quality initiative, ‘Saving time saves lives’. Grindel notes that the ongoing passion and commitment of Netcare 911 employees was central to the success of the project. “It was gratifying that Netcare 911 staff members shared in the goals and participated wholeheartedly in this change management project through feedback on the measures and interventions of the quality initiative and how these positively impacted patient outcomes.”

Netcare 911 received Netcare’s Quality Leadership Award for their efforts to harness technology in order to continually improve their efficiencies in responding to calls for emergency medical assistance. As part of this project, the operations team reviewed the entire customer value chain within the emergency operations centre, making use of business process analysis and testing ideas by using typical emergency medical case scenarios.

“One of the measures we implemented was the removal of the interactive voice response (IVR) system, which resulted in an immediate reduction of 21 seconds to engage an emergency call taker. Another improvement was the installation of personal navigation devices in our emergency vehicles which routed vehicles directly to the scene, thereby eliminating time lost on manual mapping. In addition, a push-to-talk device enhanced call dispatch as it facilitated real-time communication between vehicles and dispatch. Finally, the implementation of upgraded vehicle tracking software resulted in better fleet management and resource allocation, ensuring appropriate vehicles were dispatched, which further reduced response times,” says Grindell.

“The main reason why Netcare is so focused on quality programmes is to improve patient outcomes,” explains Dr Van den Bergh. “The more we enhance the care we give to our patients, the better the patient outcome.”

The Annual International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare aims to support and energise the movement for healthcare improvement. The forum achieves these aims by providing practical ideas that can be implemented in the workplace, promoting research into quality and safety improvement, fostering effective innovation, and connecting healthcare leaders and practitioners worldwide to facilitate enhancing outcomes for patients and communities. Netcare has participated in this forum for three years and has even had improvement projects accepted as abstracts. In 2013 Dr Dena van den Bergh presented the Netcare antibiotic stewardship programme in a session entitled “10 biggest improvement projects that have shaped the world”. “It was an excellent opportunity to share in best practice with countries from all corners of the globe, and bring back their learnings to South Africa,” maintains Grindell.

Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick or Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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