QI Project – Managing Licensing Renewals for Retail Food Establishments

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Trevor Weigle
QI Project – Managing Licensing Renewals for Retail Food Establishments
What’s On Your Mind?: 

As part of the Local Performance Management Initiative (brought to you by NJDOH Office of Local Public Health and Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education), the Paterson Division of Health used Rutgers’ practical QI approach to examine and improve its food licensing program.

THE ISSUE:
Our licensing renewal process for retail food establishments was time-consuming and, due to issues with our computer system, staff had to manually review and fix errors after printing out licensing renewal forms each year. Overall, this process was very time consuming and confusing for our staff. We also didn’t have any standard operating procedures for handling the renewals once they come in, so if key staff were out, there would be delays because most staff didn’t know how to process them.

THE OPPORTUNITY:
By standardizing & documenting how licensing renewals work, and then training additional staff on this process, we hope to improve staff understanding of this process, as well as reduce errors and work more efficiently and quickly. Improving our turnaround time will let us provide better customer service to the owners of retail food establishments. Morale may also get better when staff know what is expected of them and can process the work properly.

THE IMPROVEMENT:
We’re working with our IT support to proactively fix issues with our computer system. We’ve also improved the licensing process by writing SOPs and training staff so everyone knows what they need to do to process the renewals. Additionally, inspectors are working to input information into the computer system to update the establishments' records so that the computer system will be more accurate in the future and incorrect records are eliminated. All of this has created a licensing process that runs more smoothly and processes renewals quicker.

PROMISING PRACTICES:
Creating SOPs for one process gives staff the experience and impetus to create them for others, as well.

Including people who are not involved in the process brings an unbiased perspective and can lead to greater improvement.