Quality in healthcare

Quality in Healthcare - Over View

Quality in the health sector is becoming a major concern for patients, public health officials, funding agencies and governments.

The concept of quality is different for different groups of stakeholders/actors. The stakeholder may include: healthcare providers, healthcare financers/donors, patients and others. A wide range of different views exist even within a specific group of stakeholders. Patients may view quality in terms of factors such as physician-patient interaction, physical environment, time and distance. Health workers may regard quality in terms of appropriateness of provided care, provision of appropriate care or fulfillment of required equipments and medical supplies. Funding agents may emphasize the importance of efficiency and accessibility of care. But what is relatively common to different groups in defining quality is that appropriateness of provided care and provision of appropriate technical care.

Definitions of Quality

Quality has been defined by different individuals and organizations. According to ISO 9004, quality is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of something comply with a set of expectations. It is a relative concept which cannot be defined in a vacuum.

Quality is also defined as the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy (customer) stated or implied needs. [ASQ](American Society for quality ).

The American Society for quality states that medical quality as the degree to which healthcare systems, services and supplies for individuals and populations increase the likelihood for positive health outcomes.

Donabedian defines quality as the application of medical science and technology in a way that maximizes its benefits to health without correspondingly increasing its risks. ( Avedis Donabedian, 1982).

According to WHO quality is Proper performance (according to standards) of interventions that are known to be safe, that are affordable to the society in question, and that have the ability to produce an impact on mortality, morbidity, disability, and malnutrition.(WHO 1983)

Health care quality is also defined as the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge. (IOM, National Academy of Sciences)

There is an important common concept in the above definitions that Quality of healthcare is about:

  • Achieving positive health outcomes
  • Limiting the negative consequences of health care
  • Complying with scientific recommendations
  • Addressing beneficiaries' needs and expectations
Last modified: Tuesday, 21 March 2017, 5:50 PM