5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Audit Programme

A well designed and consistent audit programme can be one of the best tools for driving quality and patient safety improvements across all healthcare areas. But why use another “app” or create a new programme unless you really want to make a difference. By changing the way we do things, we can drive sustainable change and improvement. So, here are my 5 tips for getting the most out your audit programme:

1. Engage everywhere at all levels

Quality is a very broad term. It encompasses many different things to different people. By involving your frontline staff (and patients!), you not only gain a wealth of experience - you also create ownership and interest. If your band 6 nurse doesn’t see the point in a question, chances are it won’t be assessed properly. Perhaps they have a point, it’s not relevant to their area, or they haven’t understood why  the question is important. This gives you an opportunity to improve. By listening and acting on what your staff tell you, you encourage them to give more feedback. This allows you to better understand what quality means to them in their healthcare setting.

“The impact that we’ve seen from Perfect Ward is the increase of knowledge of our workforce. They understand more where they are. When you know where you are you can plan your journey to improvement”

– Les Porter, Associate Director of Nursing - Corporate Nursing, Wirral University Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

2. Provide the right tools and information from day 1

Rushing to deliver a programme without careful set up has significant pitfalls. Train staff too early and you can lose interest and momentum. You want to harness the enthusiasm that comes from embracing new tech-enabled processes. You can lose this if staff aren’t able to start using the audit programme straight away. You’ll then want to build on it, so your staff see the immediate benefits.

If we get it right, those who are well trained become your ambassadors. Their enthusiasm will encourage others to be active in driving quality improvements across the organisation.

3. Learn quickly and don’t be afraid to change your mind

Even with the best intentions, we all make mistakes. This can be particularly true if you are designing something new. So, you need to be able to quickly recognise where things are not working and change them and re-test. We do this frequently with our customers. In the first three months of implementation, we will tend to do three major iterations of audits. We balance out the need for proper assurance with the time it takes to carry out inspections.

4. Focus on the so-what

The healthcare industry is overwhelmed with data. Healthcare measures everything! Often, I wonder how often people step back and challenge what they see and ask a simple “so what”.  Providing information is useless in isolation. You need to be able to understand what this means and what action you take. The actions will help define your process that sits around your audit programme:

– Is the information accurate? – if it’s questionable, what protocols could you put into your process to verify audits provide an honest view of quality

– Who needs to act on this information?

– What sort of actions do you need to take?

– How do you ensure those actions are successful?

5. Celebrate success

When we created Perfect Ward, we set out to create ease and efficiency in quality and patient safety improvement.  We didn’t realise we had the potential to completely change the culture around audit! Our leads within NHS organisations feedback that introducing Perfect Ward has changed staff’s attitude to audit.

Audits were seen as a negative, management driven tool. It was employed to seek out issues. Now, however, it has become an aid, helping staff at every level of the organisation understand what good quality is.  By providing clear information about the issues, they are empowered to make changes. Frontline staff can take ownership of their improvements to quality and patient safety.

So my final tip is to ensure that staff focus as much attention on success as well as identifying issues. By highlighting improvements that everyone can see, staff are motivated to share best practice. Everyone benefits.

“Since we’ve implemented Perfect Ward, staff have really engaged. They are keen to demonstrate how well they’re doing with their audits. It’s the successes that they love to share.” 

– Emily Wells, Matron - Clinical Lead on IT Solutions, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Improving Quality Inspections - Workshop 2

March 14thsaw our Second Workshop of the Improving Quality Inspections programme take place here at Perfect Ward. This workshop built on some of the key and important issues raised by our Quality leads in the last workshop as well as discussing new ideas.

After discussing with our original attendees what they had gained from the last workshop and welcoming our newcomers we swiftly moved on to the main themes of the second workshop. This time we concentrated mostly on the processes surrounding an audit: what makes an inspection process effective and efficient, ensuring you get the maximum benefit out of your inspections.

We were joined by Andrew Mooraby, the Head of Nursing (Advancing Practice) and Katie Ashton, Lead Nurse, from Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust who are veteran users of Perfect Ward. They spoke about what Perfect Ward has done for them, providing valuable insight into the processes they have put in place to govern effective use of Perfect Ward and how Perfect Ward has transformed their organisation-wideview of quality.

Our Quality leads were also treated to an exclusive demonstration of brand new Perfect Ward features which are due to be released soon, (watch this space,) and provided feedback on what they thought of them.

Many of our participants are considering a ward accreditation process. The workshop explored ward assurance, what it means and how we can make it work effectively for us. Finally, we looked at maintaining processes, how best to ensure that actions are undertaken after the audit has been completed.

One of our key objectives was to provide a platform where quality leads could connect and share ideas, which has been very successful with not only animated discussions within the workshop but also outside of it as different trusts have been working together, suggesting ideas and even visiting each other’s trusts to help improve their quality inspections.

The final workshop in the programme is next month and if you would like to know more click here

We are hoping to run similar workshops in the future so if this is something that would interest you or if you have any questions about Perfect Ward then please contact us at:info@perfectward.com.

Written by the team at Perfect Ward.
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Improving Quality Inspections - Workshop 1

Last week here at Perfect Ward HQ, we launched our Improving Quality Inspections programme. Hosted in collaboration with Kent Surrey & Sussex Academic Health Science Network and the Health Innovation Network, we brought together quality and compliance experts from NHS acute, mental health and community providers to share their knowledge and ideas about best practice in quality inspections.

As we visit Trusts up and down the country, one of the most frequently asked questions is “What are other Trusts doing?” Quality leads are keen to understand how their peers are assessing. So it made perfect sense to get everyone together to not only share knowledge but also to help harness collective expert insights to develop a perfect inspection process.

The programme dissects the key elements of an inspection, providing a structured framework to debate the pros and cons of each aspect including:

Our first of three workshops concentrated on the content of audits – what are the key questions you should ask to give you real insight into quality without having to do a deep dive into every aspect of care?

Jonathan Knight, founder of Perfect Ward demonstrated the app, highlighting the key features of our latest upgrade – multiple audits and inspection alerts. Needless to say, attendees have a fantastic opportunity to try out Perfect Ward and use this as a tool to eliminate the admin side of auditing – the number one complaint from all our participating Trusts was the administrative time taken up with audit.

Our guest speakers for this workshop were:

With our experience seeing a wide range of inspection regimes and quality audits we were able to share our knowledge and insights. But more importantly, the day gave those on the frontline a forum to connect with their peers and share their expertise. Attendees came away with clear, practical steps they can make to improve their inspection and we look forward to hearing their feedback at the next session. 

We believe that this workshop has been a big step towards improving quality inspections and if you want to find out more, click here: https://www.perfectward.com/book-a-demo/ 

Top Five Tips on Adopting New Technologies for Healthcare Providers



We were very pleased to be asked to write a guest blog for Care Forum, a great event that's been running for over twenty years, on the topic of five top tips for healthcare providers looking to adopt new technologies. Have a look at their website for their excellent blog (we've included the text of our post too)

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Technology, if successfully implemented, can free up time to care, improve quality and reduce costs in healthcare. However, there are many pitfalls along the way. Jonathan Knight, founder of Perfect Ward, gives five top tips on what healthcare providers should look for when adopting new technologies…

  1. Simple is better: Technology is likely to be used by many front-line staff with a range of IT skills. Some will be ‘digital natives’, extremely comfortable using apps and mobile technology; others will be ‘technophobic’ and more comfortable with a pen and paper. Any new technology needs to be accessible to both groups and sympathetic to existing processes within the care environment. Too often, new technologies ignore the wide range of user skills and existing processes. Therefore, they require significant training simply to get everyone to understand the product, let alone use it on a regular basis. 
  2. You are only as good as your weakest link: Too often, the basic physical infrastructure of care homes and hospitals does not support the technology being introduced. A lack of fast WiFi, too few laptops, or a lack of mobile devices mean that the technology does not get used, no matter how ‘good’ it is. So, make sure you have the basic infrastructure in place before investing in new technologies that can’t be used! Technology either works for staff and residents or it doesn’t: the weakest link will determine this.
  3. Use discipline: Technology solutions can simply replicate unstructured and ill-disciplined manual processes. As a result, a significant opportunity to drive efficiency and quality of care and data is missed. Good technology solutions, in our experience, take into account existing processes, but make sure that the new technology helps improve process discipline and the data structure. As a result, new technologies can help drive improved reporting, remove variation in the quality of care provided and help to eliminate wasted time and effort.
  4. Excite your staff: The introduction of new technology is a fantastic opportunity for leaders to engage with front-line staff, understand the issues being faced and help staff in fulfilling their roles. Too often, technology implementations are ‘done to’ staff and consequently, they feel like an additional burden is being added to their role. The best technologies excite staff, open up new possibilities in how they do their jobs and make them feel supported in their role. Engaging staff early in the process generally leads to much better results.
  5. Don’t sit still: Technologies are evolving and adapting the whole time. What may not have been cost effective or secure enough two years ago, may be cheaper and more robust now. Healthcare providers need to constantly evaluate the market to see how new technologies can be applied in their environment.

At Perfect Ward, we work with a range of healthcare providers spanning acutes, mental health, community and care home providers to introduce new technologies that reduce time spent on administration and give frontline staff time to care. Given the challenges of coping with an aging population; increased demand for healthcare services; limited supply of nurses and constrained budgets, we believe that successful providers will need to embrace technology to survive. We can help them navigate this area.

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Written by Perfect Ward CEO Jonathan Knight for Care Forum.