Alignment with the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards and Australian Medical Council (AMC) Standards is among the many challenges facing public and private hospitals.
Although the value of the standards is acknowledged in their contribution to improved health, safety, and patient outcomes, the ease with which NSQHS and AMC standards can be assessed, implemented, and sustained in the complex world of healthcare may create challenges for those responsible for ensuring compliance.
In this article, we provide a brief overview of the NSQHS and AMC standards, explaining what they are and why they need to be met. Recognising the significant challenge with compliance, we also identify a solution that makes these standards not only accessible, but easier to meet.
What are the NSQHS Standards and AMC Standards
Throughout Australia, all public and private hospitals, day procedure services and public dental practices must be accredited to the NSQHS Standards. Many other healthcare facilities also elect to be accredited understanding that the standards have the potential to improve the safety and quality of the health care provided.
Originally developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), the NSQHS Standards were developed through a collaboration of Australian Government, states and territories, the private sector, clinical experts, patients and carers.
The primary aims of the NSQHS Standards are to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health services. As a quality assurance mechanism, they are a barometer for measuring whether relevant systems have been implemented, and if safety and quality standards are met.1
The AMC is the accreditation authority for the medical profession under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The Accreditation standards, in relation to health, are used to assess whether a program of study, and the education provider that delivers the program, provide those undertaking the program with the knowledge, skills and professional attributes necessary to practise the profession in Australia.2
The AMC develops accreditation standards for medical programs and education providers, while the Medical Board of Australia approves accreditation standards for the medical profession.
The AMC uses accreditation standards to assess medical programs for accreditation. It also uses standards to monitor accredited programs and providers.2
Why must the NSQHS Standards and AMC Standards be met?
Australians enjoy the privilege of a high standard of healthcare. This is due to the quality of clinicians and the standard of training they receive, which together are connected to the NSQHS Standards and AMC Standards.
Together the standards provide:
- A minimum standard of access to resources, education and training for new and vulnerable clinical staff, helping ensure safe clinician practice and ultimately safe patient care.
- Guidance to organisations as to whether they meet or exceed the minimum quality standards.
In short, the standards protect the institutions they serve, the clinicians who implement them, and the patients they care for.
How are the standards met?
Accreditation is one mechanism by which hospitals can determine if they are meeting the standards. It involves being assessed by qualified external peer reviewers as to their compliance with safety and quality standards.3
Continuous quality improvement is also an important consideration in the promotion of safe, high quality healthcare, as it provides the assurance to end users about the quality of care they can expect to receive.
In Australia, all public and private hospitals must be accredited. This means they must demonstrate successful implementation of all the NSQHS Standards to an independent accrediting agency (approved by the Australian Health Service Safety and Quality Accreditation (AHSSQA) Scheme.
If a hospital is not accredited, they may be restricted from delivery of specific services, and be subject to oversight by the regulator. Failure to meet the standards can also lead to the removal of licences and/or withdrawal of funding. A health service organisation that does not achieve accreditation will be reassessed for compliance with all eight NSQHS Standards within a 12 month period to determine if they can continue operating. 3
Med App and the NSQHS Standards and AMC Standards
If all this sounds like serious business, you’re right; it is.
We have seen how our hospitals and frontline workers play a pivotal role in delivering quality healthcare to the public at large during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Standards like those prepared by the NSQHS and AMC provide the framework to deliver the high-quality care that has been integral to navigating the COVID crisis.
With the necessity for rapid communication and potential upskilling, COVID amplified a pre-existing need for ready access to the appropriate resources, information, and tools for those delivering care at the frontline. Fortunately, there is technology available now to address some of these challenges.
As the MedApps team is gearing up to support our 20,000 users in 50 sites across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom in preparation for the 2021 clinical orientations, we have mapped our processes and features to align with the relevant national organisational safety, quality, and educational standards.
We work closely with organisations to ensure that not only is Med App populated with the relevant safety, quality, educational, and wellbeing content, but also the messaging, education/CPD attendance tracking, and quality improvement features help streamline communication, reporting, and promote evidence-based practice.
Our current features not only map to many of the National Safety and Quality Health Standards (NSQHS) standards and the Australian Medical Council (AMC) Intern Training Standards, but our new feature releases aim to increase alignment and support. For clinicians this means quality orientation, education, wellbeing and engagement information at their fingertips and streamlined administrative compliance and reports for hospital leadership teams.
As a business driven by our vision to improve clinician wellbeing and efficiency, we’re committed to ensuring all clinicians have access to the right workplace and wellbeing information when they need it to provide safe, efficient, and effective patient care.
Whether you’re a hospital executive, medical administrator, part of the education unit, or a frontline healthcare worker, there is an imperative to have access to relevant resources and training opportunities as per the NSQHS Standards and AMC Standards. Online/offline technology like Med App can help hospitals meet their requirements of the standards by making information available to the people who need it, when they need it. For more information reach out by connecting with Dr Sonia Chanchlani, Med App’s Chief Medical Officer via email at [email protected], or uncover the possibilities when you book a complimentary Med App demonstration.
- Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards Sydney, NSW: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care; 2017 [Cited December 2020]. Second Edition [Available from: https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/sites/default/files/migrated/National-Safety-and-Quality-Health-Service-Standards-second-edition.pdf.
- Australian Medical Council. Accreditation Standards and Procedures ACT2018 [Cited December 2020]. Available from: https://www.amc.org.au/accreditation-and-recognition/accreditation-standards-and-procedures/#:~:text=The%20AMC%20is%20the%20accreditation,territory%20(the%20National%20Law).&text=The%20AMC%20develops%20standards%20for%20all%20phases%20of%20medical%20training%20and%20education.
- Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Consumers and accreditation: NSW; 2019 [Cited December 2020]. Available from: https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/standards/national-safety-and-quality-health-service-nsqhs-standards/assessment-nsqhs-standards/consumers-and-accreditation#what-is-accreditation.