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Patient-Centred Healthcare Through Clinical Governance and Practice Improvement

17 Jul 2023, by Kristen Gutierrez

Clinical governance in Singapore is underpinned by a robust and systematic approach to maintaining and improving the quality of patient care. At the institutional level, clinical governance involves a myriad of activities, including clinical audits, risk management, patient safety initiatives, and quality improvement projects.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) sets the governance framework, outlining the standards and guidelines that healthcare institutions must follow. This holds organisations accountable in continuously adapting to changing demands and safeguarding high standards of care.

Practice improvement, on the other hand, is a continuous process that involves learning from every patient interaction to achieve better patient outcomes, system performance, and professional development. This feedback loop drives system improvements through a learning culture developed from clinical incidents and near misses.

Another key driver of practice improvement is the use of data and analytics. Healthcare providers collect and analyse a wealth of patient data to identify trends, understand patient needs, and drive improvements in care.

Together, clinical governance and practice improvement ensure that patient care is effective, safe, and focused on patient satisfaction. This is particularly true in the context of Singapore, where these twin pillars form the bedrock of a healthcare system globally recognised for its efficiency and quality.

Security and Risk Management

In the era of digital health records and telemedicine, security has become an integral part of clinical governance. The MOH has issued guidelines on managing patient data in healthcare. They highlight technical safeguards like encryption and secure network architecture, administrative measures such as access control and data breach response plans, and physical safeguards like secure facilities and equipment. Additionally, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data, providing a layer of legal protection.

Also guided by the MOH’s guidelines, risk management frameworks involve a systematic process of identification, assessment, and mitigation. Staff training is its other critical component. Healthcare professionals are trained to identify and manage risks in their clinical practice, ensuring that patient safety is always prioritised.

Consumer Participation in Healthcare

In Singapore, there is a growing recognition of the value of patient and family involvement in healthcare decisions. This shift towards patient-centred care is present in feedback channels such as patient satisfaction surveys, complaints, and compliments. Healthcare providers can gain insights into patients’ experiences and perceptions of care.

Patient and family advisory councils are another mechanism for consumer participation. These councils provide a platform for patients and families to share their experiences and perspectives, contributing to decisions about care delivery and policy development.

Successful Practice Improvement Initiatives in Singapore

Over the years, Singapore has seen several successful practice improvement initiatives. For instance, the National University Hospital launched a project to improve post-operative pain management. By standardising pain assessment and management protocols, the hospital was able to reduce the incidence of severe post-operative pain.

Changi General Hospital also implemented a multidisciplinary approach to managing chronic diseases. Working together, multidisciplinary healthcare professionals were able to provide comprehensive care, resulting in improved patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Transforming Healthcare

Clinical governance and practice improvement are integral to the Singapore healthcare system’s success. With the advent of big data and artificial intelligence, there is enormous potential to leverage data-driven decision-making to drive improvements in care.

Singapore has been able to deliver high-quality, effective, and safe care to its citizens. As the healthcare landscape evolves, robust clinical governance frameworks and a commitment to continuous practice improvement will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the country’s future in healthcare.

Further recommendation:

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