In the United States, health care is a strictly regulated area of business, which is governed by multiple standards. These standards serve to improve the quality of services delivered to patients, promote information sharing between providers, and ensure the appropriate conduct of employees in the healthcare sector. Health care standards are regularly updated to ensure that they contain the latest recommendations and guidelines.
Organizations and employees who do not comply with certain standards are at risk of losing their license or funding from the government insurance schemes, and thus it is critical to ensure adequate compliance. The present paper will explain the importance of standards to the U.S. health care system and provide examples of the particular standards that apply to Mayo Clinic.
Health care standards concern all the various aspects of care provision in the United States. They include standards related to clinical practice, facilities, medical devices, information technology, patient information, certification, and licensure (Singh, 2015). For example, there are various health, safety, and quality standards that enable medical institutions to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs and receive federal or state funding (Singh, 2015). The first benefit of standards for the U.S. health care system is that they create specific criteria for medical institutions with regards to quality, thus easing the processes related to licensing and enabling them to participate in government programs.
Another valuable advantage offered by unified health care standards is that they promote cooperation and information sharing. For instance, electronic health record standards help to ensure that care providers apply the same methods while working with EHRs, and thus the data from these records can be accessed by other care providers as needed (Sicilia, 2013). This promotes the continuity of care and prevents medical errors while also improving patient autonomy in health decision-making. If a patient is not satisfied with the care provided, they can choose a different specialist or an institution without having to pay for additional diagnostic tests and procedures.
Thirdly, health care standards help to assure that all medical professionals are qualified to provide care and that they are given tasks and duties that are within their scope of practice. For example, nurses are only certified to perform certain tasks, and they would not be able to replace a surgeon during an operation. Moreover, the services provided, the devices used, and the facilities where care is rendered are also certified in accordance with the latest standards. O’Leary (2015) explains that a unified international regulatory system for medical devices, similarly to other health care standards, promotes patient safety and improves health outcomes. Finally, the fifth benefit of health care standards to the United States is that they can increase the quality of care provided on the national level.
Influence on Mayo Clinic
Continuity of Care Record is one of the vital standards that apply to Mayo Clinic. The CCR reflects the standards related to patient information keeping and is designed to improve data sharing between care providers. Using the CCR, physicians, specialists, and nurses working in Mayo Clinic can ensure that they collect the essential information about a patient and their health condition and can transfer it to another specialist or facility if needed.
This standard is vital as it promotes the continuity of care and improves patient autonomy in medical decision-making. This is particularly relevant for patients with chronic diseases, as they are likely to visit several different care providers (Hussey et al., 2014). Therefore, the use of this standard impacts the quality of care and enables Mayo Clinic to improve the health of its patients.
The Need for Improvement
One of the critical health care standards that require improvement is chronic pain care. As explained by Woodbury (2015), opioid prescription remains the standard of care for patients with chronic pain, despite the rising rates of opioid-related deaths, overdoses, and addictions. The author also states that opioids are not a practical solution to the problem of chronic pain, as many patients develop tolerance to the medication over time and are also at risk for experiencing side effects (Woodbury, 2015). Although there is currently no effective treatment for chronic pain, revising the standards of practice to change the first-line treatment option would help to reduce opioid-related deaths, thus promoting patient safety.
Overall, standards play a vital role in the U.S. health care system, as they improve the quality of care, provide guidance to care providers, and enable institutions to participate in government programs. For example, the Continuity of Care Record helps to structure patient information and share it with other care providers as needed. However, there are also some standards that require further attention. Due to the rise in opioid-related deaths and addiction rates, it is recommended that the standards of practice related to chronic pain are revised to offer a different first-line management option. This change would help to increase patient safety and prevent some of the drug-related deaths while also improving patients’ quality of life and health outcomes.
Hussey, P. S., Schneider, E. C., Rudin, R. S., Fox, D. S., Lai, J., & Pollack, C. E. (2014). Continuity and the costs of care for chronic disease. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(5), 742-748.
O’Leary, D. (2015). An introduction to international medical device standards. Web.
Sicilia, M. Á. (Ed.). (2013). Interoperability in healthcare information systems: Standards, management, and technology. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Singh, D. A. (2015). Essentials of the US health care system (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Woodbury, A. (2015). Opioids for nonmalignant chronic pain. AMA Journal of Ethics, 17(3), 202-208.