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Exploring the CQC’s New Monitoring Approach

What the new changes mean for NHS Trusts and private healthcare providers.
doctor at his desk looking at his laptop making notes
| Robert Hobbs | Healthcare

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the CQC to change its monitoring approach and suspend its routine inspection programme. Exceptional circumstances called for exceptional measures, so the CQC adapted and adopted a mix of on-site and off-site methods as part of the new “Emergency monitoring approach.”

As the situation continued to evolve and events unfolded, they kept pace by moving to a transitional monitoring approach based on specific existing key lines of enquiry, an increased uptake of technology and targeted inspection activity for areas of concern.

Now, as the situation has eased and the CQC moves on from last year, the Chief Inspectors have unveiled new changes to the way they regulate to keep improving and keep providing the public with assurance about the quality of the care they receive across the UK.

What’s Changing?

Announced on 14th June, the new scheme is being piloted immediately, with plans to move to a full roll-out to more services from 13th July. The approach focuses on three key areas:

  • Improving The CQC’s ability to monitor risk to help them be more targeted in their regulatory activity.
  • Bringing information together in one place for inspection teams, presented in a way that supports inspectors with their decision making.
  • Testing elements of how the CQC wants to work in the future, including how they provide a more up-to-date view of risk for people who use services.

The improved access to information will allow inspection teams to act quickly, while keeping their judgement “at the heart” of their approach to inspection. More importantly, Inspectors will now undertake immediate on-site inspections at any time if they feel a service poses an increased risk of poor-quality care, and the CQC will also “sample” services by carrying out inspections to check that its monitoring activity is consistent with the evidence they have gathered by telephone or on-site.

There’s no doubt that this is an important change in approach – one that emphases inspecting systems and patient pathways and focuses on improvement and learning. But now that the Chief Inspectors have set out their next steps for more targeted regulatory activity, what does that mean for NHS Trusts and healthcare providers as they navigate those next steps while still dealing with the most challenging conditions they’ve ever faced?

How do the new changes affect assurance and compliance processes, and how will trusts ensure that they can deliver the required data accurately, quickly, and completely?

One Version of the Truth

The days of limping along with assurance and compliance data scattered across disparate systems are now truly numbered. Now, more than ever, Trusts need to ensure that all relevant assurance and compliance data is kept readily at hand in one place, ready to present when the Inspectors come calling with little to no warning.

Compliance needs to be evidenced clearly and comprehensively, with no doubt as to the veracity of the information. All users need to have access to a single version of the truth so that they can be confident that the data they’re accessing is as accurate and timely as possible. Scattered reports, spreadsheets and manual systems simply can’t provide the required level of trust anymore (if they ever did) and maintaining them all takes up far too much valuable time and manpower. That’s why a fast, accurate, accessible, and fully integrated assurance framework is becoming more of a necessity than ever.

Ease of Use is Key

Consequently, that means that Trusts’ compliance and assurance platforms need to be as intuitive and accessible as possible so that everyone, from the board to ward, can enter their data easily and feel engaged while doing so. Nothing is as daunting to busy front-line staff as a complicated system that they struggle to use, and when faced with a bewildering slew of menus and buttons, many users put off entering self-audit data until “later” because they see it as a chore rather than as a seamless, unobtrusive part of their daily roles.

Thus, Trusts must ensure that their quality assurance and compliance tools are user-friendly and platform-agnostic wherever possible. The growing speed, safety and power of cloud computing means that such solutions can be easy to implement, allowing users to check and input data and monitor actions just as easily on an tablet or iPad as they make their rounds as on a desktop PC.

The CQC’s new approach to the way it monitors services means big changes for Trusts, and the challenge now is to adjust to the new strategy as efficiently as possible, while still delivering top-class care. As the CQC is placing more emphasis on streamlining the way they assess ratings, then the right technology will play a key part in helping Trusts maintain a clear oversight of their assurance and compliance measures and adapt and thrive through the challenges ahead.

Robert Hobbs

Chief Executive Officer

InPhase’s Chief Executive and Founder, Robert has been the visionary leading InPhase to be one of the UK's leading providers of management, governance and assurance solutions, and helping organisations align their actions and goals more easily and efficiently with InPhase's suite of integrated apps.

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