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Health care quality is the degree to which health care services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes.   As with quality in other fields, it is an assessment of whether something is good enough and whether it is suitable for its purpose. The goal of health care is to provide medical resources of high quality to all who need them; that is, to ensure good quality of life, cure illnesses when possible, to extend life expectancy, and so on.

Six Domains of Healthcare Quality

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine released six domains to measure and describe quality of care in health:

safe – avoiding injuries to patients from care that is intended to help them

effective – avoiding overuse and misuse of care

patient-Centered – providing care that is unique to a patient’s needs

timely – reducing wait times and harmful delays for patients and providers

efficient – avoiding waste of equipment, supplies, ideas and energy

equitable – providing care that does not vary across intrinsic personal characteristics

Healthcare Quality Measures

Health care quality is measured using Quality Measures on healthcare services provided by any health care resource like that in a healthcare facility. It is important for us to measure Quality in Healthcare as it provides us valuable insight of health care relationships between quality, cost, and accessibility of health care within a community. However,  measuring quality of care poses some challenges as measures are difficult to define due to the limited number of outcomes that are measurable and restricted availablity of complete data sources due to strict regulations on health services research. Researchers measure health care quality to identify problems caused by overuse, underuse, or misuse of health resources. Quality assessments compare and measure these Quality Measures Data or Quality Indicators data against an established standards (benchmark).

Quality measures can be segregated as three types:

Structural measures describe the providers’ ability to provide high quality care,

Process measures describe the actions taken to maintain or improve community health, and

Outcome measures describe the impact of a health care intervention.

There are two different levels at which assessment of health care quality may occur:

1. Micro-Level or the Individual Patient Level – assessment of health care quality at this level focuses on services at the point of delivery and its subsequent effects.

2. Macro-Level or at the Population Level – assessments of health care quality at this level includes indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality rates, incidence, and prevalence of certain health conditions.

Last Updated: July 2020