The Importance Of Quality Of Care In The Treatment Of Patients
When talking about quality of care, we cannot fail to mention its dimensions—such as effectiveness and efficiency—because they are what allow us to define when a good service is being offered.
Importance in health care quality
When we are cared for by a health professional, we are clear about what we want and need: that they take care of us, care for us effectively and solve our health problem with the greatest possible guarantees, in a way that is appropriate to our needs and, furthermore, in the shortest time possible and without incident. This is what is known as quality of care , a concept that is often reviled due to the lack of means and time that health professionals suffer today, but that can be remedied if it is previously analyzed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the quality of care as follows:
“High-quality health care is that which identifies the health needs (educational, preventive, protective and maintenance) of individuals or the population in a way fully and accurately, and allocates the necessary resources (human and otherwise) to these needs in a timely manner and as effectively as the current output of knowledge allows”.
The Council of Europe defined healthcare quality in 1998 as the “degree by which the treatment provided increases the patient’s chances of achieving the desired results and reduces the possibility of undesired results, considering the current state of knowledge”.
Quality healthcare equipment
Today’s society is changing. It is an increasingly informed society and the health professional is increasingly better trained and qualified thanks to technological advances. For this reason, the quality of care is gaining more and more strength and how this health care is in a territory will be key when designing its health policies.
According to Shaw and Kalo (2002), the challenge for each country is to recognize these dimensions of care quality , and reconcile them in a receptive and balanced health system. Despite this, there are many organizations that today lack the tools that allow them to monitor quality, care and patient safety in real time.
Dimensions of care quality
As recognized by the Ministry of Health, “effectiveness and efficiency” are the two dimensions that are included in all possible definitions of quality of care and, therefore, the most important:
Effectiveness: extent to which the intervention in question produces the desired health-improving effects in those who are treated. Is it the best treatment for the patient?
Efficiency: it is defined in terms of the relationship between cost and result. It seeks to maximize the return on an investment made, or conversely, to minimize the investment for a given level of return. The question to be raised here would be how the unit cost of the same treatment or service can be compared in different places.
Quality of care
To date, several authors have defined the concept of quality of care according to several dimensions (in descending order of frequency):
Patient care experience
Choice/availability of information
But we must not forget that the degree of satisfaction and the fact that the specific needs of each patient have been met are also important when it comes to having a higher quality of care.
How to improve the quality of care
We have several tools to improve the quality of care, such as the publication of clinical practice guides that support the management of health professionals during their efforts, as well as the different monitoring systems (audits, informed consent or patient studies, among others). It can also be very useful in these cases to have the evaluation of our counterparts, through accreditation programs, peer review, among others.
Even so, and with the aim of always offering patients the best attention and care, it is increasingly important for hospitals and health centers to be able to measure the quality of their care and the safety of their patients during treatments, something that it is generally hampered by a lack of means.