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Free online course empowers individuals to improve NHS care

A new free online course is aiming to give people working in health and social care organisations the skills and confidence to improve the quality of healthcare provision.

The six-week course is designed for anyone working in a health or social care setting, from clinicians and administrators to hospitality and housekeeping staff, to enable them to change and improve their service.

It is also suitable for patients or those with a general interest in healthcare, or quality improvement outside of the field of health.

Quality Improvement in Healthcare is offered by the University of Bath in partnership with the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) through the FutureLearn platform – the UK’s leading organisation for the provision of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses.

Anna Burhouse, Director of Quality at the West of England AHSN, said: “Our health and social care systems are complex, and this can be a barrier to individuals feeling they can make a difference. Our experience tells us that people want to make a change, but knowing where and how to start is the challenge.

“The Quality Improvement in Healthcare course equips learners with a set of skills, tools and attitudes that gives them the confidence to rethink the status quo and know how to look at the problem from different angles. Whatever someone’s role in their organisation, it’s possible to change complex systems and improve patient care.”

The course will:

• Explain how quality and process improvement works, particularly in complex organisations
• Show how quality improvement can lead to better outcomes for staff, organisations and patients
• Give people the confidence to start and lead a quality improvement project in their own organisation
• Enable people to access additional support and encourage others to join the project
• Explain how systems modelling and analytics techniques support quality improvement initiatives.

The MOOC complements research by the University’s Centre for Health Innovation and Improvement (CHI²), based in the School of Management, which focuses on solving the practical challenges of health and social care. It uses systems modelling and computer simulation to work with clinical teams and managers, to improve outcomes and experiences for patients, and make organisations more effective and efficient.

Dr Christos Vasilakis, Lead Educator and Director of the University’s Centre for Health Innovation and Improvement (CHI²) said: “Simple quality improvement methods help people to work as a team to adopt improvements, to embed coaching and leadership skills and to create a culture of improvement which can make a positive difference to the experience of staff and patients alike.”

Dr Tricia Woodhead, Associate Director for Patient Safety at the West of England AHSN added: “The MOOC is a new approach to online learning. Using short talks and video footage, as well as a steer to read short publications, we have designed this course to fit into busy lives. Finding better ways to organise our health and social care services to benefit patients and staff is hard. This course gives anyone within these organisations the knowledge and confidence to change the way they think, analyse and then act to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their work. We think it will transform people’s approach to change just as it has ours!”

The School of Management’s Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Improvement is focused on solving the practical challenges of health and social care. It uses systems modelling and computer simulation to work with clinical teams and managers, to improve outcomes and experiences for patients, and make organisations more effective and efficient.

The University currently offers five MOOCs spanning healthcare, sustainability and international security, with further courses in development. They have no entry requirement so can be taken by anyone from anywhere around the world as a taster for further academic study or to explore a subject of interest. For more information click here:

The Quality Improvement in Healthcare MOOC starts on Monday 5 September 2016 and is now open for sign up here.

For further information, please contact Alison Jones in the University of Bath Press Office on +44 (0)1225 386986 or + 44 (0)7966 341322.

Posted on July 11, 2016

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