Healthcare organisations around the world have been grappling with the substantial challenges of improving patient safety and care quality for decades. A substantial body of evidence has now been built up that provides guidance about what works and how to make care safer and better. The primary areas of risk, such as staffing levels. medicines, and prompt and effective response to patient deterioration have been identified and initiatives that can make a difference have been deployed globally. Improvement science and methodologies has been adapted to deliver sustainable and useful tools that clinical teams and service managers can deploy to actively improve the care they deliver. Metrics and outcome measures, while sometimes still contentious, have also been developed that can provide effective indicators of improvement.

Yet variation in standards of care quality and safety persist, even within the best health systems in the world. Large-scale, mandated approaches to imposing standards at a system level have often been broken against the reality of day to day clinical practice in an often resource limited environment. What has been key to success, where it has been achieved, has been around creating a positive culture around quality and safety and fostering a culture of improvement. It has also come from the field of human factors, which provides crucial insights that can guide those striving to understand how to deliver change. This has often been accompanied by learnings derived from other safety critical industries, such as aviation, that have had greater success in safety improvement. Substantial attention must therefore be paid to supporting individual clinical professionals and care givers by creating safety focused systems. This can go a long way to designing out the potential for risk to occur and eliminating the opportunity for clinicians to cause harm.

So, the key challenge for a health system such as New Zealand’s is to spread the best practice that already exists in pockets around the country, and to learn from the international body of evidence. Conferenz has developed a new conference called Improving Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety in New Zealand to meet this need and support this process. The event has been designed as an impartial, multi-disciplinary platform to support health and care services as they move towards the delivery of world class, harm-free care. It provides a chance to hear from sector leaders and share the latest evidence-based best practice and innovations, enabling health and care providers to achieve a system of safety across entire organisations, and deliver practical patient safety and quality improvement at the clinical coal face.

The conference is held on the 13 & 14 of November in Auckland. Visit conferenz.co.nz/QHS for the full agenda.

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