JCI/ESS consultant conducted an on-site tracer training with NHCS ESS core team, visiting various service areas to impart the know-how of conducting ESS assessments in future.

NHCS first achieved Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation in 2005, cementing our high standards in public healthcare. As our healthcare landscape evolves and transforms for the better, many new compliance guidelines and regulations have been put in place to ensure quality and safe care for patients. In order to stay relevant to the needs and requirements of patient safety and quality care, MOH, together with SingHealth and the rest of the public healthcare institutions, will adopt the new Ensure Safer Systems (ESS) programme progressively from this year - focusing on high reliability and Target Zero Harm in quality, patient safety and various aspects of our work such as human resource, research and education. 

What is ESS?
While ESS is based on JCI standards, there is no professional accreditation and no tracers/ surveys by external auditors. Instead, ESS is a five-year programme adapted to the local context and focuses on regular monitoring by our own staff. 

An ESS steering committee led by Chairperson, Assoc Prof Yeo Khung Keong, Deputy CEO and Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, as well as a core team have been established to look into each standard/chapter. Internal trainings have begun since last July to familiarise leaders with the programme. More recently, a workshop on on-site tracer was held with the JCI/ESS consultant.

Dr Philip Pang, Co-Chairperson of NHCS ESS team and the Cardiothoracic Surgery lead, shared, “The consultant clarified that ESS is a process of continuous improvement, rather than a historical snapshot of JCI assessment,” while Kwek Koon Roan, Nursing lead, added, “The consultant also echoed a quote by Maureen Bisognano, President, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) – Everyone in healthcare should have two jobs: To do the work and to improve how the work is done – this is truly what ESS is about and what NHCS will aim for.”

JCI/ESS consultant conducted an on-site tracer training with NHCS ESS core team, visiting various service areas to impart the know-how of conducting ESS assessments in future.

Tracers with AMP® is a web- and mobile-enabled tool that helps organisations maintain continuous compliance, facilitate data-driven decisions, and enhance cross-departmental efficiency and communication. (Image extracted from Tracer with AMP® brochure).

“While ESS is a long-term journey, it allows us to obtain valuable insights on how we could improve patient care in terms of safety and quality, with minimal workload impact on ground staff, where possible. To be successful in this journey, we would require the support from every staff regardless of their roles – from senior management, medical, allied health as well as our operational and logistical teams,” said Dr Koh Choong Hou, Co-Chairperson of NHCS ESS team as well as the Cardiology lead.

The ESS Baseline Assessment, the equivalent of JCI Survey, will be held from 2 – 5 May 2023. If you are wondering what you and your colleagues need to prepare – What to remember? What files to prepare?, etc. -  The short answer is nothing. All staff ought to uphold high standards of work in our daily practice and zero harm should be a norm. However, if you notice a gap in any area, raise it to your supervisor and we will work together to address the issues.

Take note!
A vital component of the ESS programme is the comprehensiveness and robustness of the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system and processes. NHCS’ EMR workgroup, one of the largest in SingHealth, continuously reviews and improves our EMR through regular internal audits. Asst Profs Lee Phong Teck and Foo Jie Sheng, Consultants from the Department of Cardiology who lead the workgroup, have the following to share: