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Revised Health Care Quality Standards

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care have recently published a second edition of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. All health services will be assessed against the revised standards from January 2019.

There are eight standards and 148 actions in the second edition of the NSQHS Standards, compared with ten standards and 256 actions in the first edition.

According to the Commission, the second edition addresses gaps identified in the first edition including mental health and cognitive impairment, health literacy, end-of-life care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. It also updates the evidence for actions, consolidates and streamlines standards and actions to make them clearer and easier to implement. This work has also resulted in 52 new actions being identified across the eight new standards.

At MEERQAT, we are currently updating all of our relevant basemaps to reflect the changes in the standards, and in particular, any requirements that are involved with the 52 new actions.

One of the new items that is of particular relevance to MEERQAT is variation in clinical practice and health outcomes which comes under Standard One - Clinical Governance. The actions under this item require health service organisations to have systems that will monitor variation in practice against expected health outcomes, with specific actions such as:

• provide feedback to clinicians on variation in practice and health outcomes;

• support the clinicians to undertake regular clinical review of their practice; and,

• use information on unwarranted clinical variation to inform improvements in safety and quality systems.

Using the NSQHS-related basemaps within MEERQAT with frontline clinicians provides an excellent mechanism for health services to assess where variations in routine clinical practice are occurring and to engage the same clinicians in identifying appropriate corrective actions. This form of self-assessment also provides an opportunity for staff to be educated about the requirements of the revised national standards.

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