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Accountability in Healthcare: How is It Measured?

Doctor holding the hand of a patient as they deliver news

There’s a reason why the healthcare industry is expected to grow by 13% over the next decade. We rely on these professionals to treat us and keep us healthy. 

However, it’s important to remember that healthcare professionals’ decisions can often mean the difference between life and death. 

That’s why accountability in healthcare is so important. If someone makes the wrong decision or choice, they must face the consequences of that choice. 

But exactly how do you measure this accountability? In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know about this critical concept. 

What Is Accountability in Healthcare?

Before we learn about accountability in healthcare, we must first go over what accountability means. Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions and explaining the choices that led you to your decision. 

That being said, it’s critical to remember that accountability differs from responsibility. Accountability is an essential part of our daily lives outside of work, but it’s essential in healthcare. 

For example, if a staff member makes a mistake while filing insurance forms, they might be asked to explain why. This will ultimately help them avoid mistakes in the future. Sometimes accountability can involve consequences. 

As another example let’s say a severe error is made during surgery, holding someone accountable might involve taking their medical license away. Or, if a healthcare employer creates unsafe working conditions, they’ll lose their position. 

Without accountability, both morale and overall productivity decrease. It also creates a potentially dangerous work environment. And lastly, the overall quality of care given to patients decreases. 

How Do You Measure Accountability in Healthcare?

There are numerous ways that you can measure accountability in healthcare. As such, you should be worried about experimenting to find one that works for you. However, most organizations use two different metrics: financial accountability and performance accountability. 

Financial accountability is the tracking and reporting of any finances to ensure that the resources are being put to good use. Performance accountability refers to how well your staff meets the goals you lay out or the satisfaction reports of your patients. 

It’s also important to note that you can measure accountability with patients. For example, let’s say you ask a patient to stick to a diet to protect their heart health. 

When they come in for another visit, ask them about their progress in sticking with the diet. If they’re having trouble with it, then you can help think of alternative solutions to help them. 

Interested in producing changes within your staff? Contact B STATE to give them the accountability training that they need. 

Related: What Is Self-Accountability? [Guide & FAQ]

Healthcare researchers working on a new drug

How to Improve Accountability in Healthcare

Hopefully, by now, we’ve convinced you that accountability in healthcare is essential. Now, let’s go over some ways that you can improve it. 

Related: 5 Best Books On Accountability: Individual & Organizational

1. Create Clear Expectations

Everyone on your healthcare staff should know their role and responsibility. If they don’t, there will be blindspots that will lead to accountability problems. So use program management to set clear expectations for everyone. 

Remember to be open to collaboration. Odds are your staff likely has valuable suggestions regarding what’s working and not working regarding accountability. 

2. Decide How You’ll Measure Progress

Again, accountability can often feel like an abstract concept. As such, it’s essential to establish clear, measurable goals with both your employees and patients. 

One good way of measuring progress is to have outcome-oriented plans. That way, everyone knows exactly what they’re working toward. 

3. Improve Communication

When people need to communicate correctly, it can lead to serious accountability problems. For example, maybe a doctor assumes that a nurse should know to check the patient’s bloodwork. Then, when she doesn’t, he gets upset that he has to bring the patient back in. 

The source of this miscommunication often comes from a misalignment of expectations. But when everyone gets on the same page, communication can improve. 

4. Provide the Necessary Tools

You expect your staff and patients to improve in terms of accountability without the proper tools. For example, communication is a problem between departments because you’re dealing with outdated computer systems. 

By updating the hardware and software, you can make it easier for your employees to hold each other accountable. 

You could use an electronic health record system that allows your patients to access their medical files. That way, they’re more likely to take medication and seek additional treatment from other healthcare professionals. 

Related: Hospital Uses And Inner-To-Outer Approach To Solve Massive Post-COVID Challenges

5. Offer Training

Odds are, if you work in a large healthcare environment, then you have different departments exhibiting silo behaviors. This happens when everyone stays in their silo without a common goal or communication expectation. 

This type of behavior often causes accountability problems since departments will often blame each other when something goes wrong. The proper training can make sure that everyone is on the same page. 

Here at B STATE, we offer a variety of different training services. You can check out this page to learn more about them. 

Patient in a hospital bed

Why Is Accountability in Healthcare Important? 

Accountability in healthcare is essential because the stakes are high for both patients and healthcare workers. In the extreme, accountability in healthcare can prevent costly litigation, but even on a day-to-day basis, it’s the only way to make sure patients are getting the care they need. Without accountability, it’s possible for a member of your staff to make frequent mistakes that go unchecked, causing more stress on the rest of the healthcare team and creating costly or potentially dangerous consequences for patients. 

If this continues without consequences, it can result in serious allegations, like a malpractice lawsuit. Even though eight out of ten malpractice lawsuits rule in favor of physicians, it still requires a massive amount of resources and time to defend against. 

Investing in accountability ensures that you help stop these mistakes in their tracks. That way, they never transform into something bigger. 

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