How A B Medical Services used their HR system to prove CQC compliance
Our customer, A B Medical Services, is a Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered provider of event medical cover, pre-hospital care, and ambulance & paramedic services. When their medical team isn’t on emergency standby at major events, you might find their fleet of ambulances zipping through the congested streets of London, escorting patients to and from hospital, or providing urgent first-response medical care.
In order to provide medical services in the UK, companies must be registered with the Care Quality Commission, England’s independent regulatory body. CQC requires registered medical care providers to comply with a very strict set of guidelines.
Audits are messy, complicated affairs for medical service providers
In order to ensure providers are meeting essential standards of quality and safety, the CQC conducts regular inspections. This means that companies in the medical services industry must have an audit trail of how they are upholding quality and safety standards.
“We’ve never had a problem meeting these standards from an operational point of view” says Ashton Baker, qualified paramedic, and founder of A B Medical Services, “but the administrative side of producing a clear audit trail has always been a bit of a train wreck. And I don’t just mean for our company – it’s a problem for everybody I know in the medical services industry.”
Ashton explains that most record keeping related to compliance requires a lot of time-consuming sifting to find the right information. And where this information is being stored digitally, it often requires a lot of technical knowledge to interpret. This is why audit trails are messy, and CQC inspections can be lengthy and drawn out.
Finding an HR system that would keep key HR information safe
HR is a big part of compliance with CQC guidelines, because companies must ensure they are not employing people with criminal convictions, or people who have been banned from working with children. They must also ensure that each medic they employ is fully qualified – otherwise, they won’t be insured.
Earlier this year, Ashton joined People HR, as a way to safeguard his business. People HR lets him keep track of employee details such as their industry qualifications, their criminal background, and their rights to work with children. However, it wasn’t an easy decision – there were dozens of HR software providers out there, all clamouring for his attention.
“Straight away, I ruled out systems that I would need to install locally” says Ashton. “Not only had one of these systems just cost me my entire HR database due to a hard disk failure, but I also work as a responder for 999 emergency services, which means I can’t always guarantee I’ll be at my desk when I need to check something on an employee’s record. People HR lets me access my entire system from my iPad, which is really helpful when I’m out and about. They also have a robust security and disaster recovery procedure that keeps my data safe”
Using the performance module to deliver a clear picture to inspectors
Having a central employee database certainly keeps key information safely in one place. But with his next CQC inspection looming, Ashton still wasn’t sure how People HR could help him deliver a clear audit trail – until he had a smart idea for adapting the performance management area of the system.
“I started by writing down everything CQC would be asking to see” says Ashton, “then I started building a three-part performance review that would review overall performance, and assess compliance with CQC regulations, all at the same time.”
Ashton’s new performance review was split into three key parts:
- Appraisal – how are my employees doing at their job overall?
- Clinical observation – how are my employees interacting with patients and following procedures on the job?
- Clinical paperwork – how well do my employees complete their paperwork, and is it accurate and complete?
This allowed Ashton to work towards continuous improvement with his team. It also gave him an instant PDF print-out that he could hand to the CQC inspectors. But he wasn’t finished yet – take a look at what he did next.
Adapting the performance module to create a company-wide checklist
So much of Ashton’s compliance information was already now being taken care of by his HR system, that he felt it would be a shame not to go one step further.
“I wanted to create a compliance snapshot for the entire company, so that we were ready for the CQC inspection” he explains, “something that incorporated all company responsibilities – not just those relating to HR. You see, we have to consider all sorts of factors – from vehicle cleanliness, to infection control.”
Ashton decided to add his company as an employee within the system, so that he could start a bespoke performance review that looked at everything they needed to consider from a compliance perspective. Assigning his company as a direct report to himself, he was able to assess every important element, such how clean each ambulance was – the performance review noted that no blood stains were present, fortunately!
The auditors were impressed – being this organised is not expected in this industry
When the CQC arrived to carry out their inspection, Ashton felt truly prepared for the occasion.
“Care Quality Commission arrived, and asked to see everything we’d done” he says. “Because all performance review information is exported into a graphical format, I could easily log into the system, and pull everything they asked for. Paperwork, performance, appraisals, clinical performance. I just had to switch between a few tabs, and export each area.”
Ashton says that they are still waiting for the CQC inspection report – but based on verbal feedback, they seemed very impressed.
“They told me everything was excellent” he recalls, “and said it was really refreshing to see that we’d implemented a system that was actually workable, transparent, and with an audit trail that doesn’t take a lot of technical knowledge to interpret. We’ve had to be a bit creative to tailor the system to do what we wanted, but this is far more than many ambulance services manage – there’s a real shortage of systems out there that help us support compliance.”
And I can confirm that Ashton really does like to get creative with the software. For example, he’s adapted the training matrix to induct new vehicles into his fleet – making sure they comply with his high standards, before he sends them out to meet their first patient.
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