Tried and tested ways brought to you by the reigning QI Star of the Year, Dr Kang Mei Ling.
“Quality Improvement is all about making changes to solve problems,” says Dr Kang Mei Ling, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine (DIM).
"I am always hunting for solutions to problems and areas to do better. I think this mindset of continuous improvement is inherent to any clinician because what we doctors want is to improve the health of a patient."
The reigning QI Star of the Year, Dr Kang shares 5 tried and tested ways to solving problems at work.
1. What’s bugging you? That’s your problem!
“Pick a problem that you face daily in your work, or which bothers you emotionally. If you are trying to solve such a problem, you would be motivated even when the going gets tough.”
2. See the big picture
“The last thing you want is to create problem B while solving problem A. Take time to think through the problem. See it from different angles, find out how this problem is linked to other hospital services or processes. Try out your solution and involve other colleagues or departments in this trial. Then you can anticipate the implications of your proposed solution on the larger hospital environment.”
“One of my biggest angst is when someone helming a QI project comes up with a solution which they expect others to execute without first trying it out himself nor engaging others in the trial."
3. Candid discussion throws up great ideas and builds trust
“Do not be afraid to share frankly. It throws up great ideas and builds trust. I recall fondly working with colleagues from SGH Bed Management Unit (BMU) to improve right-siting of patients in SGH wards. At that time, our DIM patients were admitted to all wards across the hospital. So our inpatient teams had to spend much time walking around the hospital to get to all our patients. We also needed large teams of doctors to cover such a large area.”
“The QI team ‘argued’ late into the night on how to solve the problem and improve the situation. It became clear that ring-fencing DIM patients in certain wards would allow the same number of doctors to manage more patients, and save walking and transit time. The time savings translated to more time for our doctors to care for patients; and just as importantly, we made friends with our colleagues from BMU for further projects and improvements.”
4. Failure does not always mean that the proposed solution is wrong
“I used to tell some teams starting on QI projects that I had previously tried the solutions they had in mind and they didn’t work. On hindsight, I should have just let them try it out because they may fare better than me. Even if they failed, they would learn from it.”
5. Rome was not built in a day
“QI is not meant to be done overnight. I think QI is a slow journey of growth and even self-discovery, so I tell people not to rush. It is OK to keep the idea brewing and simmering, bring it along wherever you go, and when ready, or when you are no longer able to tolerate the problem, just do it!”
Got a pesky problem at work? Gather a few mates to do a QI Project to get rid of it once and for all. Unsure how to get started? Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. Also look out for the next QI SOTY in November.
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