Quality of Patient Care: Evaluating Approaches to Measure Patient Outcome

The quality of patient care in the medical profession is fundamentally important, not only to the concerned patients but also to the reputation and professionalism of the medical expert and facility. Quality of patient care can be defined in terms of advanced care and outcomes; exceptional patient safety; and outstanding service and patient satisfaction (Ching-I et al, 2009). Health professionals and institutions must persistently refine the care they provide to patients by monitoring, evaluating, and measuring the treatment protocols provided against their own thorough values as well as industry benchmarks. Many health institutions strive to deliver the right care at the opportune time, and in the correct setting. The health institutions, however, experience difficulties in establishing benchmarks to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of care provided. It is, therefore, the purpose of this paper to evaluate two approaches used to measure the patient outcome.

Successful provision of quality care demands high commitment on the level of the medical practitioners since consecutive studies have, so far, correlated commitment to professional performance (Ching-I et al, 2009). As such, measuring and evaluating the performance of medical care providers and patient outcomes has become a fundamental facet of many health care systems around the world (Mukamel et al, 2010). Information about the quality of patient care can inarguably be used to make improvements on quality, including facilitating the efficiency of medical care.

One of the approaches that can be used to accomplish this objective is known as the risk-adjusted mortality rates (Mukamel et al, 2010). This approach functions on the assumption that there exist only two aspects to which dissimilarities between health institutions’ observed mortality rate and anticipated mortality rate can be ascribed when good risk adjustment is taken into consideration. The two factors are random variation and quality of service or care (Thomas & Hofer, 1999). It, therefore, follows that when a health facility’s observed mortality rate exceeds its expected mortality rate, so much that the difference between the two is deemed unlikely to have occurred by chance or probabilities, then the health facility is presumed to be delivering poor quality care. Such health facilities are called high outliers. The approach continues to be widely used in health institutions to measure patient outcomes and to inform policy despite frequent accusations from some quarters that it is not an accurate measure.

The second approach used to measure patient outcome is known as subjective patient-reported indicators (Dassaw, 2007). This measure, though relatively new in the medical profession, focuses on patient function and satisfaction levels attained from the quality of care given. The quality of patient care is deemed to be poor in health facilities that offer the least satisfaction to patients. It is heavily patient-orientated, and as such, it has run into trouble with medical professionals who claim that the measure is too subjective to be trusted. However, it should not escape mention that patient satisfaction is a core variable since it is one of the main reasons why patients seek services from health institutions. To conclude, it is fundamental to note that the inclusion of patient outcome measures to evaluate the quality of patient care so far remains controversial (Dassaw, 2007). However, the data and information received from undertaking these evaluations are fundamentally important in informing the health policy, undertaking quality improvement, identifying best practices for our health facilities and physicians, and finally, as a means of calculating pay for performance.

Reference List

Ching-I, T., Yu-Tzu, D., Yea-Ing, L.S., May-Kuen, W., Tsung-Len, C., & Ying-Huang, T. (2009). Professional commitment, patient safety, and patient perceived care quality. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Vol. 41, Issue 3, p. 301-309.

Dassaw, P.L. (2007). Measuring performance in primary care: what patient outcome indicators do physicians value? The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Vol. 20, Issue 1, p. 1-8. Web.

Mukamel, D.B., Glance, L.G., Dick, A.W., & Osier, T.M. (2010). Measuring quality for public reporting of health provider quality: Making it meaningful to patients. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 100, Issue 2, p. 264-269.

Thomas, J. W., & Hofer, T.P. (1999). Accuracy of risk adjusted mortality rate as a measure of hospital quality of care. Medical Care, Vol. 37, Issue 1, pp. 83-92.

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