Quality care is care that works, is safe and is tailored to patients. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines quality care as “doing the right thing for the right patient, at the right time, in the right way to achieve the best possible results.”
Today, despite advances in medical technology and science, uneven and often poor quality health care exists in America, especially in the treatment of chronic diseases that affect millions of Americans, like diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Poor quality care comes in three forms: overuse, underuse, and misuse. We give people care they do not need, we fail to give people care that we know works, and we make mistakes. We must address all three problems to create a more efficient, equitable and high-value health care system in America.
Although we know many of the best practices to improve the quality of care, formidable barriers prevent these practices from taking hold and transforming care across the country. In far too many communities, health care is delivered through fragmented systems within which hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses and patients struggle to understand what quality care is and how to achieve it.
Health care costs are growing at a rate that places ever-bigger burdens on our country’s economy. We need more rational ways to determine if our health care delivers value that’s worth the investment—value to patients, physicians, nurses, hospitals, health plans, businesses and government. Even though health care represents one of the biggest expenditures by the federal government and others, evidence shows that people still aren’t getting the right care at the right time.
Research also shows that specific racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic groups persistently experience the lowest-quality care. These gaps in quality and equity persist even when other factors, such as insurance status and income level, are taken into account.
Through the Central Indiana Alliance for Health, we are working to lift the overall quality of health and health care in Central Indiana.