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Measuring healthcare quality: the challenges.

Research paper by Jaap J van den Heuvel, Gerard C GC Niemeijer, Ronald J M M RJ Does

Indexed on: 05 Jun '13Published on: 05 Jun '13Published in: International journal of health care quality assurance



Abstract

Current health care quality performance indicators appear to be inadequate to inform the public to make the right choices. The aim of this paper is to define a framework and an organizational setting in which valid and reliable healthcare information can be produced to inform the general public about healthcare quality.To improve health care quality information, the paper explores the analogy between financial accounting, which aims to produce valid and reliable information to support companies informing their shareholders and stakeholders, and healthcare aiming to inform future patients about healthcare quality. Based on this analogy, the authors suggest a measurement framework and an organizational setting to produce healthcare information.The authors suggest a five-quality element framework to structure quality reporting. The authors also indicate the best way to report each type of quality, comparing performance indicators with certification/accreditation. Health gain is the most relevant quality indicator to inform the public, but this information is the most difficult to obtain. Finally, the organizational setting, comparable to financial accounting, required to provide valid, reliable and objective information on healthcare quality is described.Framework elements should be tested in quantitative studies or case studies, such as a performance indicator's relative value compared to accreditation/certification. There are, however, elements that can be implemented right away such as third party validation of healthcare information produced by healthcare institutions.Given the money spent on healthcare worldwide, valid and reliable healthcare quality information's value can never be overestimated. It can justify delivering "expensive healthcare, but also points the way to savings by stopping useless healthcare. Valid and reliable information puts the patient in the driver's seat and enables him or her to make the right decision when choosing their healthcare provider.