Skip to main content

Blog & News

How to Foster Patient Safety Culture by Increasing Collaboration Between Departments

Using Digital Incident Reporting Solutions, Increasing Collaboration Between Previously Siloed Departments
| Andrew Bingham | Healthcare

The significance of patient safety culture in healthcare cannot be overstated. This is especially true in large or fragmented healthcare settings where the complexity of day to day processes can risk patient safety. Despite the universal acknowledgement of its importance, maintaining a culture dedicated to patient safety proves to be a Herculean task.

Collaboration and communication within and between departments are paramount to patient safety, learning and improvement. However, this becomes increasingly difficult when departments operate and remain largely separate from one another and communication or input from other departments is virtually non-existent.

How Do Siloes Happen in Healthcare?

Siloes happen in healthcare when departments operate predominantly alone. They are separate entities within a healthcare organisation instead of integral cogs that work together within the organisation.

This can be further exacerbated when data isn’t readily accessible or shared with others in different departments. When departments are used to, or content with, working separately from others, they develop their own way of working which can result in procuring, testing and customising their own systems that fit their own budgets and specifications.

As a result, a single organisation can end up housing several different systems that cannot or will find it difficult to, “talk” to each other. This makes sharing data between departments almost impossible, as documentation is often kept segregated and only accessible to certain people, further making departments act like individual organisations instead of part of a whole.

Furthermore, it creates more divisions without the additional budget to hire analysts to make sense of the data from one departments and compare it to that of another. Suppose someone does have access to multiple systems. In that case, they may have to keep several tabs open in a browser and remember several passwords to access everything, toggling between tabs to understand, reducing oversight.

The Effect Siloes Have on Patient Safety.

As a result of limited communication, lack of access to data and operating separately, patient safety can suffer. Incidents go straight to the national and local databases, but additional data isn’t disseminated to those who might benefit from it.

Moreover, teamwork among departments is a nicety necessary for comprehensive, timely, and safe patient care. The rapid dissemination of lessons learned, incident reports and action plans to those who needs to know about it by giving them access to external data that might or does impact them at any time is essential for cohesive improvement across the whole organisation.

With integrated digital solutions, healthcare organisations can expect a cutting-edge approach that promises to streamline communication while enhancing patient safety standards across the healthcare organisation. While there is much to be said for actively breaking down siloes beyond technology, such as physically breaking down barriers with mixed break rooms or having daily huddles to share key information, it’s a good first step.

What is Integrated Digital Incident Reporting?

Integrated digital systems like Incident Oversight from InPhase foster a strong patient safety culture right from the beginning. Once data is captured, it instantly appears everywhere, and all staff from any department then have access to the data in their dashboards.

Integrated digital incident reporting is more than just looking at incident reports. It's a comprehensive system that enables healthcare providers to promptly report, track, and analyse safety incidents in real-time across different departments and work streams.

Unlike traditional pen-and-paper methods or isolated database systems, an integrated digital platform offers a centralised solution that eliminates the need to manually pull data from multiple sources, triangulating data in dashboards to be examined. From here, users can see the impacts that patient safety incidents have on the wider organisation and link incidents to risks, complaints, PALS and other key care data for a more comprehensive view of patient safety.

How Integrated Digital Incident Reporting Fosters Patient Safety Culture

Using an integrated digital patient safety system in a healthcare environment has numerous advantages. First, the feature of reports within dashboards being updated in real-time as new data comes in means immediate action can be taken in response to any incident, and improvement plans can be implemented without delay. This immediacy is a massive stride forward in proactive patient safety measures.

Second, the transparency offered by such systems can't be overstated. Data is captured once and appears everywhere that it’s relevant using live connects, so users can make everyone aware of the latest events at data capture. Users can filter the data in their dashboards by department, specialty, team or individual for clarity on how each department is performing and see an overview of the organisation as a whole. This helps to break down the barriers surrounding data, lessons learned, and improvement plans, as information is disseminated across the organisation immediately.

Also, the oversight capabilities of these systems make it easier than ever to see who is responsible for certain actions, eliminating duplicated and wasted effort and becoming a much more effective and efficient way to manage patient safety. Users can have a complete overview of the efforts involved in an improvement plan, who is responsible for it and what it impacts, so they do not replicate the action and waste resources if it isn’t necessary. It helps to easily disseminate tasks organisation-wide and provide assurance that things are being undertaken.

Lastly, the scalability of these digital systems means they can be implemented across various departments without sacrificing the quality of information, allowing organisations of every size to benefit, without compromising patient safety. With a single system, everyone uses one consistent version of the truth, in place of approximations or adaptations of incident reporting forms or scattered documents to be retyped later. All that’s needed to grant access is the URL and a certified log in; any data inputted appears everywhere in the system and on the dashboards of those with the permissions to see it to quickly and easily disseminate data.

Facilitating Communication Between Previously Siloed Departments

One of the most powerful features of digital incident reporting systems is their ability to foster inter-departmental communication. Dashboards combine the patient safety data from various departments into one place for complete oversight of potential problem spots. Within these dashboards, there’s the ability to drill down into the data to identify the root cause of the problem and come up with a solution.

Users can analyse these dashboards in meetings with other departments or send pertinent data to others who may benefit from it using automated workflows and intelligent notifications to develop a plan to improve together and allocate improvement actions to specific people within specific departments.

In addition, users can also begin conversations with other members of staff and other departments that link to actions, adding context as to what’s happening, updates or adding evidence. This helps other departments understand the progress others are making and keep each other in the loop.

These at-a-glance summaries transform the accuracy and transparency of patient safety metrics by ensuring that all data is clear, visible, easy to understand, up-to-date, and in real-time. The ability to evidence actions and add narratives to incident reports means that everyone involved can gain a fuller picture of the situation, encouraging a culture of improvement and shared learning.

Overcoming Barriers to Adoption

It's no secret that implementing a new system can face resistance from staff accustomed to old ways and administrators wary of new technology—especially if previous technological initiatives have been cumbersome or ineffective. The key to overcoming these challenges lies in robust training and education programs.

InPhase offers 24/7 accredited training even before you start your implementation. In addition to training, employing various internal communications materials like posters, screensavers, and newsletters can be extremely effective in helping staff understand why you’ve chosen a new system, the differences and the benefits of the change and why they should expect to change the way they are working.

Conclusion

To sum up, fostering a robust patient safety culture is not just a goal but an imperative for healthcare organisations. Digital incident reporting platforms like InPhase offer a powerful toolkit to achieve this, helping to bridge communication gaps, increase transparency, and maintain high-quality care as organisations scale.

If you are part of a healthcare organisation and are serious about patient safety, now is the time to invest in integrated digital incident reporting solutions.

Take the first step toward safer, more integrated healthcare today by scheduling your time with an InPhase expert.

Schedule time with us

Andrew Bingham

Chief Operating Officer

Andrew is responsible for our account managers and customer success team, tasked with helping our customers make the most of the opportunities presented by our product features and key business responsibilities of customer retention, adoption and expansion.

In just a click, your job gets easier. Speak to the team.