What is Quality Health Care?
By Gail A. Garren, MSN, RN, CPHQ, Quality, Accreditation & Risk Management, Pardee UNC Health Care
What is high-quality health care? At Pardee, it means always doing the right thing for the right patient at the right time. It means using best practices and up-to-date technology to help our patients get well and stay well in a safe, caring environment.
When you need medical care, you want to receive the best treatment possible. And we recognize you have a choice about where to receive care. Our goal is for Pardee to be the hospital of choice for the residents of our community.
How do you find quality health care and how do you know you’re receiving quality care when you’re at the hospital or in a physician’s office?
Do your research: Hospital Compare is a database maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It ranks hospitals from one to five (one is the lowest score, five is the highest score) on a variety of quality measures. At Pardee, we are proud to have earned a five-star rating in Hospital Compare’s most recent report.
With CMS Hospital Compare, you can sort by region and hospital name to find an organization’s quality scores with inpatient care, outpatient care, specific diagnoses, mortality rates and more. This website is valuable even if you aren’t on Medicare or Medicaid because it is a good measuring stick for a hospital’s quality performance.
CMS has some of the most stringent quality standards, and achieving a high rating with Hospital Compare is difficult. If your hospital has a high rating, that’s a good sign they are meeting or exceeding the highest quality standards by staying current on medical best practices and training their staff appropriately. It also means they have good clinical outcomes.
Look at a hospital’s awards and accreditations: A hospital’s accreditations and awards validate that they are indeed providing high-quality care with the best clinical outcomes. A number of other organizations that give health care awards (including U.S. News & World Report, Healthgrades and Leapfrog) use information from Hospital Compare. Hospital Compare’s data is public information that anyone can access.
Check with your insurer: Some insurance companies establish their own rigorous criteria to designate quality providers and hospital programs. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield looks at both quality measures and cost-efficiency for their Blue Distinction Center+ designations. In 2016, Pardee earned this designation for knee and hip replacement surgeries as well as spine surgery.
Consider how your medical team communicates: While the awards and accreditations are an important gauge of quality, for most of us, quality begins the moment we walk through the doors of our health care facility. How are we greeted? How are complex diagnoses explained to us?
A hospital’s medical team should have access to the right training, continuing education, equipment and communications to provide seamless care.
When we bring on new surgeons, for example, we plan accordingly to make sure we have appropriately trained staff in nursing, the laboratory, dietary, housekeeping and more. We also ensure we have the beds and staff available to provide this new type of care. We make sure our whole team is on board before we start offering new services.
Pay attention to hand hygiene: This is a simple, but very effective measure of quality. Every staff member coming into your room should cleanse their hands with alcohol-based sanitizer or wash their hands at the sink as soon as they enter the room. This is for your safety and their safety. You have the right to ask anyone who comes into your room to wash his or her hands in front of you.
The overarching philosophy at Pardee is safe, high-quality care. We want to do what is best for our community’s health and well-being. We are all members of this community and aim to provide the care we would want to receive. To learn more, visit www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare.