What is Quality Health Care?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines quality health care as "doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right person - and having the best possible results (see Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care on the right). Th Institute of Medicine reframes this definition into measurable components: high-quality care is safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered.
Why is Quality Care Important?
AHRQ notes that "the over 70 million children and adolescents in the US comprise 25% of the population" and that children "differ from adults in several ways that are important for measuring and improving the quality and safety of their care. Their long life span means that the impact of investments in quality will be longer lasting."
As a population CYSHCN use more services than typical children and account for 40% or more of medical expenditures for children overall. By improving the quality of health care, CYSHCN and their families can have a better quality of life and reduce costs, as demonstrated in Highlights of AHRQ Children’s Health Care Quality Findings. "Quality and patient safety improvement in four clinical topics could save between 3,700 and 7,400 children's lives in a single year."
How is Quality Measured?
Measuring quality is an important part of improving health care, and a focus of much activity within health care arenas. Families have unique perspectives on what constitutes quality. The Family Voices Family-Centered Care Self-Assessment Tools, for Families and Providers, and the Users Guide, were developed by families themselves and provide useful questions to ascertain quality. These questions can help to assess current strengths and areas for growth around family-professional partnership, care setting practices and policies and community systems of services and support.
Learning more about Quality
Some components of quality care that are key for families of CYSHCN include:
- Family-Centered Care
- Family / Professional Partnerships
- Cultural Competence
- Community-Based Services
- Health Literacy
Acknowledging the importance of these components, MCHB, the lead federal agency for improving health care for children, incorporated these concepts into core outcomes so that they can be implemented and measured.