Understand Quality Care
Learn how to take control of the quality of health care you and your family receive by understanding what good quality health care is and by following the six simple tips below.
What is "good quality" care?
- The RIGHT care
- In the RIGHT amount
- In the RIGHT place
- At the RIGHT time
"Good quality" care means that:
- You get your care from skilled and knowledgeable health professionals who communicate clearly and involve you in decisions about your care.
- You are given the type of care that medical research has shown to work best for your condition.
- Your care is safe and timely.
- You are able to get as much care as you need (but no unnecessary care).
But doesn't everyone get good quality care?
No – unfortunately, everyone does not get good quality care. While it may surprise you, it's true that there are big variations in the quality of health care.
Medical experts have done careful studies that measure the quality of care given to all types of people in all parts of our country. They have found that a good deal of health care does not measure up to quality standards – and that includes care given to people right here in southeast Michigan. Check out the differences in care provided in southeast Michigan on myCareCompare.
For example, studies have shown that:
- Many patients are not given the type of treatment that research has shown to work best for their condition. Instead, they are given other care that doesn't work as well.
- Many patients are not able to get the care they need, or there are delays in getting care they need.
- Many patients are given care that is unsafe, such as being given the wrong medicine. Studies show that most medical mistakes can be prevented.
What can you do to put quality first?
Because there are big variations in quality of care, it's clear that getting good quality care doesn’t happen automatically. Below are six tips on how you can help make sure that you and your family get good quality care:
(1) Be informed and involved
To help make sure you get good quality care, you need to find and use information about quality of care. You also need to play an active part in all the decisions that affect your health.
You can use the myCareCompare website to be informed and involved in different ways:
- You can compare the quality of care delivered by southeast Michigan hospitals in the Hospital Performance Report section of this website.
- You can compare the quality of care delivered by physicians in southeast Michigan physician organizations in the Physician Organization Performance Report section of this website.
- You can find resources, such as questions to ask your doctor, information on childhood immunizations, and many others, in the Find Resources section of this website.
(2) Get the Care that is known to work best for your condition
To help make sure you get the care that works best for your condition, you can ask questions when you see your doctor or other health provider. Ask for information about your treatment choices and ask whether any research has been done to find out which treatments work best. You can also find more information in the Find Resources section of myCareCompare or use the website to compare care provided by hospitals and physician organizations.
(3) Get the right amount of care (not too little, not too much)
Getting the "right amount" of care means that you are able to get as much care as need, but only as much as you need. Getting the right amount of care is important for your health and important for making wise use of money spent on health care.
- Getting less care than you need is not good for your health.
- More care is not necessarily better care. If you are given extra care that you don't really need, it is a waste of your time, a poor use of resources, and it can sometimes be harmful to your health. For information on how physicians and patients have the important conversations necessary to ensure the right care is delivered at the right time, visit the Choosing Wisely website. Choosing Wisely is an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation.
What really counts is whether you are able to get as much as you need of the right kind of care. The right kind of care is the care is the care that works best, based on results from medical research. To help make sure you are getting as much as you need of the right kind of care, ask questions when tests and treatment are recommended for you. You can also look for more information on your own. For tips on how and why to ask questions of your doctor or other health care provider, visit this website run by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: "Questions are the answer."
(4) Get care that is as safe as possible (ask about the risks of treatment choices and to your best to help prevent medical mistakes)
When you are making a treatment decision, be sure to ask about the risks as well as the benefits of each treatment choice. Also, be aware that patient care is not always perfect and mistakes are sometimes made. Mistakes are bad for patients and they waste an enormous amount of money. To help make sure that your care is as safe as possible, find out what you can do to help prevent medical mistakes.
Here are resources with tips on what you can do to help prevent medication mistakes:
- Websites run by the National Council on Patient Information and Education: www.talkaboutrx.org and www.bemedwise.org
- A patient guide called Your Medicine: Play It Safe at the website of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (www.ahrq.gov/consumer/safemeds/safemeds.htm)
(5) Get timely care (go in for care as soon as you need it; stay on schedule with preventive care and follow-up visits)
Delays in getting care can lead to more serious health problems that are more difficult and more costly to treat.
- Since you are the one who usually decides when it's time to get care, do your best to get care as soon as you think you need it.
- To help catch any health problems at an early stage, stay up to date on your screening tests and other preventive care.
The government has created guides for women and men that tell what preventive care you need, depending on your age. You can find these guides called "Stay Healthy at Any Age, Your Checklist for Health" at www.ahrq.gov/clinic/ppipix.htm.
(6) Do your part to stay healthy
To stay as healthy as possible, make wise lifestyle choices. This means doing your best to eat healthy food, stay physically active, keep a healthy weight, and stay tobacco-free.
If you have a treatment plan to help recover from illness or injury, be sure to follow it. If you have an ongoing health condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or asthma, find out what you need to do to manage this condition.