Healthcare Quality Improvement: Overview
One of the primary results of heightened public interest in healthcare quality improvement has been an increased demand for data from healthcare providers. As local and national hospital quality initiatives have emerged, the availability of hospital quality data has improved, greater consensus has been achieved around standards of care for certain conditions, and the hospital community has achieved measurable successes. Hospitals are not alone in working hard to improve quality of care, healthcare quality improvement now involves virtually every healthcare stakeholder.
The increased attention to quality assessment and improvement is not expected to abate any time soon. The consumer-driven healthcare trend, through the use of health savings accounts paired with high-deductible health plans, and other means, is increasingly transferring financial responsibility for care to patients. This is likely to have the same effect on healthcare as on other types of services. Consumers will want to know more about what their dollar is buying them, and some will be willing to pay more for proven higher quality. At the same time, the federal government is expected to continue down the path of linking performance and reimbursement. Passage of federal health reform legislation, with its heavy emphasis on healthcare quality improvement, is another signal that healthcare quality initiatives will continue to play a key role in the quest to improve the U.S. healthcare system.