Promoting education and transparency for healthcare consumers


Quality in healthcare can be summarized as the attempt to maximize patient safety and positive outcomes by utilizing evidence-based medicine. Two primary tools used to assess quality in healthcare are quality measures and accreditation/certification. Prominent quality measure organizations include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO) is a well known and respected accrediting body in the United States. Here, we'll explore the common ways in which quality is measured and reported, look into the advantages and limitations of quality assessment, and offer suggestions for resources consumers can utilize to assess the quality of healthcare providers.

What are Quality Measures?

Quality measures are tools used to assess the ability of a healthcare provider to deliver quality care that is effective, safe, efficient, patient-centered, fair, and timely. Most quality measures are based on evidence-based medicine, which can be narrowly defined as utilization of the best current data and research to inform clinical decision-making. There are several organizations that focus on quality measures, and we'll explore some here. As usual, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is a useful resource on quality as well.

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What is Accreditation?

Accreditation, often used synonymously with certification, is broadly defined as the process in which confirmation of competency, authority, or credibility is achieved. In healthcare, the main goal of accreditation and/or certification programs is to demonstrate a strong commitment to quality and patient safety standards. Here we'll look at some prominent accrediting bodies in the United States that consumers can utilize to evaluate the quality of healthcare organizations, physicians, and health insurance plans.

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Advantages and Limitations of Quality in Healthcare

Quality measures, accreditation, certification and any other tools used to assess quality in healthcare are beneficial and promote patient safety. However, measuring quality in healthcare can be difficult, so we'll discuss some of the advantages and limitations here.

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Resources to Assess Quality

Here we'll suggest resources that can be used to compare providers on quality and offer links to quality organizations if you'd like to research the topic further.

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