ISO and Taking Better Care of Patients

ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, an independent organization with a membership of 163 national standards bodies that brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. ISO-certification is something we pursued as an organization because of the value it brings to us and our clients. It means we meet quality and reliability standards that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors AND increase productivity.

Recently, Sentara Healthcare—a 12-hospital system, based in Virginia and North Carolina—adopted quality-management principles across its system that are based on a specific standard ISO 9001—continual improvement. Hospitals & Health Networks notes that the system is one of the first to take a system-focused approach using the non-healthcare-originated ISO 9001 standards.

Some of the continual improvement variations that Sentara developed included standardizing processes for preventing hospital-acquired bacterial infections, utilizing the supply chain department for change management as well as developing a “queuing team” to decide when new initiatives will be rolled out to prevent their staff from being overwhelmed with the changes.

Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety policy of the American Hospital Association, notes that while not always easy to implement, or understood by the entire organization, system-wide initiatives have built-in economies of scale along with the capacity to build tools and strategies to drive efforts forward. In other words, they help to create systemness: the integration all aspects of a health system’s governance, operations, and workflows—across all technologies, clinicians, and locations—to deliver seamless, cost-effective, high-quality care.

We applaud organizations like Sentara that continue to proactively look for new and better ways to drive integration and serve their communities.

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