Getting quality health care can help you stay healthy and recover faster when you become sick. However, we know that often, people do not get high-quality care. A 2004 study of 12 large U.S. communities found that just over half (54.9 percent) of people were receiving the care they needed.
What exactly is health care quality? We know that means different things to different people. Some people think that getting quality health care means seeing the doctor right away, being treated courteously by the doctor’s staff, or having the doctor spend a lot of time with them.
While these things are important to all of us, clinical quality of care is even more important. Think of it like this: getting quality health care is like taking your car to a mechanic. The people in the shop can be friendly and listen to your complaints, but the most important thing is whether they fix the problem with your car.
Health care providers, the government, and many other groups are working hard to improve health care quality. You also have a role to play to make sure you and your family members receive the best quality care possible. Here are some steps you can take to improve your care:
Be Active: Take Charge of Your Health Care
- Work together with your doctor and other members of the health care team to make decisions about your care
- Be sure to ask questions
- Ask your doctor what the scientific evidence has to say about your condition
- Do your homework; find out more information about your condition.
- Find and use quality information in making health care choices.
Be sure the information comes from a reliable source.
Talking with Your Doctor
- Understand your diagnosis
- If you need a lab test, an x-ray, or another kind of test.
- If you receive a prescription for a new medicine.
- If you need surgery.
Understanding Health Care Quality
- Doing the right thing (getting the health care services you need).
- At the right time (when you need them).
- In the right way (using the appropriate test or procedure).
- To achieve the best possible results.
Providing quality healthcare also means striking the right balance of services by:
- Avoiding underuse (example: not screening a person for high blood pressure).
- Avoiding overuse (example: performing tests that a patient doesn’t need).
- Eliminating misuse ( example: providing medications that may have dangerous interactions).
We would like to think that every doctor, nurse, pharmacist, hospital, and other provider gives high-quality care, but we know this is not always the case. Quality varies depending on where you live. Quality can vary from one State to another. Health care quality varies widely and for many reasons.