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Healthcare Management and ISO 7101

Delivering quality to the health industry

Published: Tuesday, October 31, 2023 - 11:03

Healthcare administrators find themselves at the fore of a demanding and transformative field, where the pursuit of excellence in patient care is nonnegotiable. In a health industry landscape facing evolving regulations, escalating costs, and an increasing emphasis on patient outcomes, the need for effective management of quality in healthcare organizations has never been more critical.

Quality care for all promotes equal opportunities for good health, regardless of socioeconomic status. This article explores the formidable obstacles and challenges that healthcare administrators encounter daily, highlighting the indispensable role of quality management in addressing these issues and ensuring the highest standards of care delivery.

ISO 7101 is the first management system standard for quality in healthcare organizations. It prescribes requirements for a systematic approach to sustainable, high-quality health systems.

The six biggest challenges of healthcare management

The health industry today faces a number of complex challenges that put a strain on healthcare management and quality care for patients.

Healthcare administrators must manage the adoption and use of new healthcare technology in their organization.

The top six challenges to delivering quality healthcare:

1. Rising health costs
The ever-increasing cost of healthcare is a persistent challenge. Balancing the need for quality care with cost containment is a constant struggle for healthcare administrators, who must find ways to efficiently use resources for high-quality service. This can be difficult to achieve, especially as treatment and technology costs continue to rise.

2. Regulatory compliance
Keeping up with a complex web of healthcare regulations at the regional, national, and local levels can be burdensome. Compliance is crucial for avoiding penalties and ensuring ethical practices.

3. Patient satisfaction
High patient satisfaction is often indicative of quality healthcare services. Satisfied patients are more likely to have received appropriate and effective treatments, leading to positive health outcomes. Moreover, disparities in access to healthcare services based on geography, income, and insurance coverage remain a significant issue.

4. Workforce shortages
Health systems struggle to recruit and retain staff members in an increasingly competitive labor market. Healthcare workers are also growing increasingly concerned about personal safety, which is a top priority for them to continue working in the industry. Top occupational stresses include erratic behavior from patients and visitors, and mental health issues, especially the effects of burnout.

5. Technology adoption
Healthcare administrators must manage the adoption and use of new healthcare technology in their organization. As medical devices and high-tech procedures continue to evolve, ensuring interoperability, data security, and usability will be an ongoing challenge. Digital health is experiencing an exciting transformation driven by recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. Other technology advancements include laser technology, which is used in everything from eye surgery to creating new equipment and prosthetic dentistry, and photonics, featured in a variety of medical practices such as noninvasive diagnosis, advanced imaging, and therapies.

6. Changing demographics
As baby boomers age, they must deal with the challenges of aging, putting increased pressure on the health sector. Older patients have unique healthcare needs, including palliative care and chronic disease management. Health services must invest in geriatric care services and telemedicine to ensure senior patients can access quality care.

Solutions for quality healthcare

Overcoming healthcare management challenges requires a proactive approach and strategic planning. ISO 7101 on healthcare organization management will play a pivotal role in defining quality health services and systems.

This landmark standard assists organizations in navigating the complexities of healthcare, from limited resources and aging populations to challenges like global pandemics. It stresses the need for timely, safe, and people-centered care, highlighting the urgency of adaptation due to the surge of virtual healthcare and technological advances. Its flexibility ensures it’s applicable to diverse healthcare providers, from small clinics to expansive hospitals.

Through its commitment to safe, high-quality care, ISO 7101 contributes to the overarching United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It ensures that resources are used efficiently, improves access to healthcare, and promotes transparency and accountability in healthcare systems, all of which are fundamental principles underlying the SDGs. In essence, managing quality in healthcare organizations aligns with the SDGs’ broader mission of creating a more sustainable, equitable, and healthy global society.

Global collaboration for health

The vision for health and healthcare is ambitious yet achievable. Global collaboration within the medical industry will be crucial to enable the collective mobilization of knowledge, resources, and expertise needed to tackle complex, transnational health challenges. Short-term challenges, such as deteriorating mental health, staff shortages, supply chain issues, climate, and macroeconomic instability should be addressed in the context of the longer-term vision.

In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s important to ensure stakeholders, industries, countries, and sectors strive to achieve common health and healthcare goals, and work collaboratively to do so. ISO 7101 is a first step in ensuring a viable healthcare industry for people everywhere.

First published in ISO News.


About The Author

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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 162 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a nongovernmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society. View the ISO Standards list.


AIAG actually did something with this long ago

The Automotive Industry Action Group and ASQ actually did something with this concept long ago, but unfortunately most health care organizations didn't do anything with it. Hopefully they will do so with ISO 7101 noting the enormous human harm from preventable medical errors and omissions, and also the astronomical monetary costs associated with this.