Quality care is used to denote superior healthcare offered to patients resulting to good patient outcome. It implies outstanding patient safety facilitated by excellent service offered by competent healthcare workers and resulting in patient satisfaction (Donabedian, 1988).
Evaluating the quality of healthcare with the intention of improving it is vital, to ensuring quality healthcare for all. Measuring the quality of healthcare offered to patients is vital in identifying which areas of patient health care need improvement. Quality healthcare is emphasized with the main goal being that of ensuring that the patient is not harmed by the healthcare offered.
The evaluation process ensures that the patient is offered accessible healthcare whenever there is need. This also ensures equity in healthcare among all the people. In America, minority groups and poor Americans receive lower quality healthcare than the other Americans who can easily afford healthcare insurance. Evaluation also ensures that effective healthcare is offered professionally and that the patient is satisfied with the healthcare which they receive. Quality healthcare is tailored according to the needs of the society. Measuring healthcare ensures that the healthcare services offered are relevant to the patients (Donabedian, 1988).
An effective evaluation process on the quality of healthcare offered to patients requires researchers to evaluate; structural indicators, process indicators and also outcome indicators. These indicators are dependent on each other and a successful evaluation requires all the indicators to be evaluated together.
The use of structural indicators is common in hospitals. Hospitals can use emergency response times which influence pre hospital survival to evaluate the quality of care offered. Structural indicators also include the human resources. An effective evaluation involves assessing the qualification of the healthcare workers. It is necessary to look into the nurse patient ratios in order to ensure than the patient receives the optimal healthcare and attention available.
The organizational structure of the hospital is also critical to ensuring healthcare quality (Donabedian, 1988). Effective organizational structures ensure that the costs are kept low, the staff is reimbursed adequately and quality patient care in emphasized on. It is necessary to ensure that the medical staff organization is effective and encourages peer reviews.
Outcome indicators refer to the effects of the healthcare offered on the patient. It also encompasses patient satisfaction with regard to the healthcare received. These can be measured by investigating the number of readmissions after treatment and discharge from hospital. This implies that a condition was either left out, misdiagnosed or there were errors in the treatment offered. Outcome indicators also include delayed periods of transferred care. Death is normally used by major healthcare institutions to evaluate the quality of healthcare (Donabedian, 1988). Overall deaths within certain units of the hospitals imply improving or deteriorating healthcare.
Healthcare workers are crucial in determining the quality of healthcare offered to patients. Their role in service delivery determines the patient outcome. The healthcare workers should therefore be qualified and competent to perform their duties. Failures in healthcare provision may result from either failure in the decisions or actions made by the healthcare workers. Their motivation also determines the attitude as well as their commitment to their duty.
Organizational measures should be in place to ensure proper reimbursement. Observational studies showed that an increase in nurse to patient ratios always translated to reduced patient mortalities. Researchers also indicated that when the nurse to patient was high, the average length of admission of patients was reduced and the patients were also more satisfied with the quality of healthcare which they received (Donabedian, 1988).
Healthcare workers determine whether the patient is satisfied with the healthcare offered. They are in most contact with the patient and often determine the response of the patient to treatment. They are responsible for constant monitoring and observation of the patients Healthcare workers are therefore responsible for detecting any changes within the patient. This may influence the outcome of the treatment (Donabedian, 1988).
Healthcare workers offer assistance to the doctors and in many cases, they are responsible for detecting and preventing medical errors which could be fatal to patients. There are more than fifty thousand annual fatalities, which result from medical errors within hospitals.
Healthcare workers also serve a crucial purpose in documenting. This enhances organizational service delivery and ensures that the right treatment is given to the right patient. This in turn ensures quality healthcare.
Donabedian Avedis. (1988).The quality of care: How can it be assessed? JAMA. 260(12):1743-1748.