Healthcare quality is critical for all providers, patients, and their families. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has identified six crucial domains of healthcare quality: patient safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity . Each domain has a vital role in the overall quality of care. By understanding each domain and its importance, health plans and providers can improve the quality and delivery of healthcare.
Here’s how understanding and addressing these six domains can aid in meeting patient needs, delivering better care, and improving service quality.
The six domains of quality healthcare
Patient safety is defined as freedom from accidental or preventable injuries produced by medical care . Having a positive patient safety culture can help reduce medical errors and increasing productivity among healthcare staff. Healthcare providers should take steps to protect patients from harm, including preventing medical mistakes and injuries, so patients can trust the healthcare system to provide them with high-quality care.
Effective patient safety interventions focus on reducing the risk of patient harm, engaging patients and families in quality improvement, improving care coordination between providers, and monitoring performance on patient safety events. Investing in patient safety can positively impact health outcomes, reduce costs related to patient harm, improve system efficiency, and help reassure communities and restore their trust in healthcare systems
Effectiveness in care refers to providing services that are based on scientific knowledge and have no significant tradeoffs (the benefits of the services so far outweigh the risks that all patients with specific medical needs should receive them) . Effective treatment uses evidence-based medicine and should neither underuse nor overuse the best available techniques.
To meet patient needs and provide the most appropriate treatment regimen possible, healthcare providers must be aware of current evidence when it comes to providing medical treatments. This is an ongoing improvement process that involves keeping up-to-date on the latest treatments, technologies, and outcomes to ensure that patients receive treatment that will effectively manage their condition.
Patient-centered care involves treating a person receiving healthcare with dignity and respect and involving them in all decisions about their health. Every patient has unique individual needs. Healthcare providers must look at the individual and have patients play active roles in their own care. This concept is especially important for those with chronic conditions that require life-long monitoring and care.
Timeliness in healthcare is the system's capacity to provide care quickly after a need is recognized . While timely delivery of appropriate care can help reduce chronic condition mortality and morbidity, it is one of the most common complaints observed from patients today.
Delays in treatment are not only frustrating but also may be life-threatening in severe cases.
Healthcare systems should consider the barriers that prevent or delay treatment and focus on breaking down these barriers to allow patients to receive diagnosis, treatment, or even preventive care in a timely manner.
Efficiency in healthcare involves comparing delivery system outputs, such as physician visits, relative value units, or health outcomes, with inputs like cost, time, or material. Even healthcare systems that operate within their budget can benefit from reducing waste.
Reducing waste can involve things like improving workflow to allow providers to be more efficient in their daily care and providing patient education and preventing re-admissions. It may also mean being more efficient with supplies, equipment, physical space, and ideas. Improving efficiency isn’t a static goal but a moving one that requires regular review and monitoring. Ultimately, it allows healthcare systems to be more efficient and ultimately deliver better care to their patients.
Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health . There are explicit and implicit biases in the healthcare system that impact people’s health outcomes. Healthcare providers must look at ways to change healthcare delivery and remove these biases that prevent people from accessing the quality care they need.
Improve healthcare quality with LetsGetChecked
When healthcare systems focus on quality improvement, they can reap significant benefits from financial savings to improving outcomes and saving patient lives. LetsGetChecked partners with healthcare plans and providers to increase access to comprehensive, high-quality healthcare services. Our comprehensive patient-centric solutions help improve efficiency, safety, and timeliness to ensure that individuals get the quality care they need.