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Friday, 23 May 2014 13:54

Quality Indicators in Healthcare Featured

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Quality Indicators in Healthcare

Quality indicators are parameters that are used to measure the overall performance of healthcare organizations. Quality indicators use data elements to establish measurement of quality. It is these measurements that are then translated to statistical summary. Quality indicators are also used to detect and indicate potential problem areas within the healthcare organizations. Healthcare organization can use quality indicators to improve the quality of patient care they provide at the facility (Klassen, & O’Donnell, 2009).

The need for the provision of quality healthcare services is driven by the notion that healthcare services should be safe, timely efficient, equitable, effective and patient-centered. These six elements form the foundational framework of quality indicators. A patient who visits a healthcare facility is involved in a variety of processes from the time of entry to the time he receives the medical attention that he needs. Each of the processes that a patient encounters determines the overall perception of the quality of services that the patient will receive.


Quality measurement and management are some of the most essential elements in healthcare provision.  Quality evaluation is, therefore, a necessary process in healthcare. However, evaluation of quality varies due to the different understanding of quality across the different stakeholders. Stakeholders involved in healthcare include, service providers, patients, payers, public health professional’s etc. patients, for instance, define quality in terms of their preference, values and responsiveness to their healthcare needs (Ashton, 2000). Physicians, on the other hand, tend to define quality healthcare with reference to attributes and results of patient care. Healthcare managers, on the other hand, perceive quality as the ability to provide for the needs and demands of the healthcare provider and patient.

The differences in perception of quality should not be a hindrance in the provision of quality healthcare services. Clinicians and patients can, for instance, merge their perceptions of quality and work towards achieving the ultimate quality of patient care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines quality care as the extent with which health services increase the chances of achieving desired health results which are consistent with professional knowledge. Clinicians aim to provide quality services, whereas patients determine quality based on their experience at a healthcare organization.

Clinicians should take into consideration the patient’s perception of quality care and integrate it with the professional measure of providing healthcare services (Klassen, & O’Donnell, 2009).Quality management is needed in healthcare facilities because the quality of healthcare services that patients receive is vital. Quality management ensures that there exists a strong healthcare structure that acts as the driving force of the provision of quality care processes and subsequent health outcomes. Quality management also addresses the presence of capabilities such as effective leadership, human capital and group dynamics as essential structural elements of quality improvements.

Quality management is also vital as it ensures that healthcare facilities are committed to continuous quality improvement and total quality control measures. There are several areas that can be monitored to determined quality in healthcare. First is the organizational culture which can be used to determine the level of supportive supervision and accountability (Honoré, & Scott, 2010). Similarly, organizational cultures can be adjusted to encourage team work and emphasis on quality improvement in principles and practice. The second area is leadership of healthcare organizations. An effective leadership ascertains optimal performance within a healthcare organization.

A strong leadership outlines the way forward for the facility with regard to the provision of quality services. Technology and evidence-based research is another area that can result to the adoption of effective and safe practices that can be adopted by practitioners. Various accreditation bodies such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare organizations conduct surveys to determine the quality of healthcare services offers in critical access hospitals, managed care, long-term care facilities, home health agencies and behavioral health care centers.JCAHO evaluates and accredits approximately 18,000 healthcare organizations and programs across the United States. JCAHO has the state of the art, professionally developed standards which it uses to evaluate health care organizations across the country.

The second accreditation agency is the agency for healthcare research and quality which focuses in the reduction of cost, improvement of patient care and quality of services. AHRQ also engages in research aimed at minimizing medical errors. It also sponsors and conducts research that provides evidence based information on healthcare outcomes. The information gathered from the numerous researchers is used, by decision makers to make informed decisions with regard to the provision of quality healthcare services (Klassen, & O’Donnell, 2009). There are numerous other organizations that are involved in matters related to quality improvement in healthcare organizations. Some of these organizations are not-for-profit while others are specific to certain states.


Quality maintenance and improvements should be the aim of all healthcare organizations. The successful implementation of quality standards requires the participation of all stakeholders involved in the healthcare organization. With emphasis of quality improvement, healthcare organizations should strive to adopt quality standards that boost performance. Quality indicators are essential measures of the level of quality that a healthcare facility upholds. Ideal quality indicators are those that measure inputs, processes and outcomes. Similarly, the indicators must also have the potency of affecting the quality of healthcare services provided by an organization.


Ashton, J. (2000). Monitoring the quality of hospital care. Health manager’s guide

Honoré, P. & Scott, W. (2010). Priority areas for improvement of quality in public health. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services

Klassen, A. & O’Donnell, M. (2009). Performance measurement and improvement frameworks in health. International journal for quality healthcare. Vol. 22(1): 44-69


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