Quality issues in healthcare are not only focused on improving the health of individuals, families, communities as well as general populations, but also on increasing the value of healthcare, and working round-the-clock to enhance the core concerns involved in defining healthcare quality (Wubker, 2007). The current paper attempts to explicate some core issues relating to viewing, defining and measuring quality in health care at the Heart Department of Plainsview Hospital, based in Massachusetts.
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Analysis: The Heart Department
Most heart-related diseases are difficult to treat and costly to manage (Wubker, 2007), hence the need for quality initiatives in the provision of care. The Heart Department of Plainsview Hospital is aware of that fact, and has started programs and initiatives aimed at maximizing the quality of healthcare for patients visiting the facility.
In this department, quality of care is viewed as a shift from the traditional healthcare services that were largely provider-centric, to a more customer-centric paradigm that takes into consideration the needs and expectations of the patients (Manjunath, 2008). The head of the department is leading the shift away from the former scenario, where healthcare professionals made major decisions about what was good for the patients even without consulting them and analyzing their views as well as fears.
Consequently, quality in healthcare can be defined as “…the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge” (Manjunath, 2008, p. 73). It is imperative to note that the definition underlines the significance of health outcomes as well as professional requirements. These are the two core principals that continue to guide the Heart Department as it navigates its way towards the provision of quality healthcare.
Leaders and health professionals in the Heart Department have developed valid and reliable measures for a broad allay of diagnostic and therapeutic service encircling a comprehensive range of healthcare challenges that compromise cardiac events. The capacity to cure the patients of their inflictions is one important measure for judging the quality of healthcare services offered. A marked reduction of medical errors and an overemphasis on patient safety is yet another measure that has been used to demonstrate that quality of care has indeed improved (Stange et al., 2010). Third, the department has used patient satisfaction scores to evaluate its position in the care continuum (Barelds et al., 2010), with the positive results received so far demonstrating positive care outcomes.
Benchmarking healthcare services with the industry’s best practices through the internalization of process quality and outcome quality has also been used as a measure (Barelds et al., 2010). In process quality, it is evident that not only are the doctors at the department friendly, responsive and professional, but the facility itself is well equipped with patient-centered services as well as technical equipment. In outcome quality, the department is on record for speedy patient’s recovery time-frames, elimination of all preventable complications, as well as minimal after-effects (Manjunath, 2008).
The discussion demonstrates that the quality of care in healthcare institutions can be modeled around three critical components – the quality of treatment outcome, hospital care, and professional physician care (Barelds et al., 2010). The onus for the Heart Department, it seems, is to continue in its quest to deliver quality care from a user-oriented perspective and in an environment where both collaboration and coordination are central pillars of the quality movement.
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