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Johan de Koning: Improving Quality and Safety at SMMC

Johan de Koning: Improving Quality and Safety at SMMC

Safeguarding quality and safety of patient care is an intrinsic responsibility of every hospital.

The same applies to SMMC, ensuring safety and improving quality of patient care is one of the key objectives of the hospital and reflected in its pillar of commitment; Safety, Health and Satisfaction. It is for this reason why SMMC currently works on introducing quality and safety management system and outcome improvement strategies.

In January, Dr. Johan de Koning joined SMMC as Manager Quality and Safety. Johan, as he prefers to be called, earned a Master in Public Health and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in The Netherlands. He has extensive experience in project and quality management and an in depth knowledge of health care quality improvement and measurement. Before coming to St. Maarten, he worked for a USAID-funded Health System Strengthening Project in Jordan, the Middle-East.

In his time at SMMC Johan developed new and innovative approaches to improve quality and safety that will soon be implemented and functional. These approaches are in accordance with international and national best practices.

Patient experience

One of the first noticeable changes patients will experience in the near future is SMMC’s commitment to get patients feedback on how the services were provided. Already a basic method is in place. Yet with a structured and innovated approach, using modern technology devices, patients can easily give their feedback before leaving their hospital bed. The feedback is immediately available for evaluation and reaction.

Patient satisfaction and experiences are a major component of quality of health care and is critical to how well patients do. The hospital strives to become an open and learning organization in which patients get ample opportunities to provide feedback to the hospital. Through a structured, systematic and innovative approach all patients will be asked about their patient experience; whether they are satisfied and whether the hospital helped them to improve their health.

“We are trying to make sure we get valuable feedback from our patients. So that based on their experiences we can improve our care,” says Johan.

Care delivery

Most of the errors made in healthcare are made in medication. Hence, medication safety is a large topic in quality and safety. Mechanisms to increase medication safety are being developed and introduced to ensure that the possibilities of errors are reduced to increase patient safety. “From the moment the doctor prescribes medication up to the moment the patient takes the medication, all structures and processes need to be standardized and controlled” explains Johan. Additionally, new approaches to support control of various care delivery processes are introduced.

Every day there are errors, incidents and near accidents being made in hospitals. That is why there are Faults or Near Accidents (FONA) committees in place in hospitals. Johan talks about the function of the FONA committee. “When someone ‘almost administered’ wrong high risk medication, that is a near accident. Departments are expected to regularly report such near accidents and, believe it or not, departments with the highest number of incidents do better than those not reporting any. With a healthy reporting culture in place, staff feels comfortable to report incidences as they can learn from it.” In some hospitals, you notice that the ‘reporting culture’ has to change. People are not always happy reporting because they do not want to blame their colleagues. We do not want reports to blame people but to examine ways how we can improve our practices. “In this hospital everybody knows that whenever you see something happening that should not be, then it should be reported. But the culture also needs to change. We will reinforce that reporting is very important and work to change the thinking of reporting that people are happy to report for the purpose of improvement.”

Steps forward

“With a good quality policy, quality plan, and a well-functioning quality and safety management system in place, we can be on a good track. Measuring our care processes and generating information for both internal quality improvement and external accountability to external parties will also help us improve as we evaluate the progress we are making.

“At SMMC there is a strong commitment to the delivery of quality patient care. For this reason, SMMC’s quality and safety improvement approach is closely linked with creating a culture and environment where all employees are patient focused and provide the highest of quality care services.” 

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