Published: 16 Oct 2018

Alicia Dimas talks to health specialists in the Falkland Islands about the importance of having an integrated quality management system and the improvements it has brought to the local hospital

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, in the Falkland Islands, is improving its quality management systems by centralising documentation and data management, while standardising operational processes.

The need for improvement was identified when the hospital was in the process of gaining EU certification for its laboratory facilities, and a new integrated quality management system has now been implemented throughout the hospital.

Janette Vincent, Healthcare Governance Facilitator for the hospital, says that the new integrated quality management system has enabled the hospital to set aside the old paper-based system. “It was very arduous trying to collate all of the information, so we wanted a system that was user-friendly – just one repository for all of our documents that was compact and simple to use.”

Hannes De Bruin, Service Delivery Manager at the hospital agrees adding that standardisation is also an important characteristic of their new quality management system: “Standardisation is key; if everybody is using the same system then there is only one avenue of training required. This is particularly important when working on a remote island, where we have a large turnover of staff coming through health and social services. We need a single, simple system that’s easy to use – even if we have a member of staff who is working in the Islands for one month or less – they need to be able to pick up processes quickly.”

The hospital has implemented Q-Pulse, a piece of quality management software produced by Ideagen, to improve quality control and efficiency of processes and procedures. Vincent and De Bruin confirm that extensive research was carried out before they decided which software would respond best to the hospital’s needs and challenges.

De Bruin says the Government of the Falkland Islands had to approve the purchase. “We drew up a business case where we identified what needed to be done and why Q-Pulse was being recommended as the preferred option. We were able to show them measurable improvement standards that we thought could be achieved using Q-Pulse.”

De Bruin goes further and suggests the possibility of expanding the tool’s implementation across a variety of government departments: “Although my remit was to help health and social services to fulfil their quality management requirements, at the same time I had to explain to Government officials that this was a system that potentially could meet their quality management requirements across all areas and services.  And so, in essence, this is our pilot – on a fairly large scale –  to see how it works.”

Ideagen has been developing Q-Pulse since 1992 and has now implemented the software in more than 2,000 organisations around the world. “The software is incredibly versatile and can be used to great effect whether you’re ‘a one-man band’ or a global industry, such as health or aviation,” says Colin MacDonald, Ideagen’s Service Delivery Consultant who worked on the Falklands project. He notes that when the hospital’s old quality management system was evaluated they saw that everything was still paper-based, requiring many hours of compiling and organising data. The introduction of the new software helped the hospital to improve its data management and control, allowing staff more time to focus on the important parts of their jobs, particularly clinical tasks and patient-facing activities.

“The Documents module is one of the key features for people because it gives them a ‘one stop shop’ where they can enter the system and find the correct active document, which they know will be both current and valid. This is a huge improvement on a paper-based system, where this kind of reliability cannot always be guaranteed,” says MacDonald.

He adds that the software is flexible and allows for data trend analysis, without the hassle of manually pulling data together. “Rather than spending hours on Excel putting graphs together, with a couple of clicks of a button you can track and analyse different trends and report functions. It is the ability to configure the system that makes it so useful.”

The software also has modules to support Staff Training Competency, Auditing and Non-Conformance, and Asset Management activities. Vincent says: “We were very impressed with how the software performed during an audit of our pathology lab processes. Q-Pulse made the whole activity efficient and effective; all policies, incident reports, documents, etc. Everything was visible and accessible, quickly and easily.”

She adds that: “The software is already making my life much easier and this is reflected across the hospital. We’re so pleased that we took this step as it means that we can deliver the best possible care and services for our patients and it has also made King Edward VII Memorial Hospital a more attractive place to work. It’s really a win-win situation for us.”