Quick Checks for Quality: Choosing Quality Health Care
Quick Checks for Quality summarizes the major ways you can check for quality in health care. The information in it comes from Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care, which is based on research about the information people want and need when making decisions about health plans, doctors, treatments, hospitals, and long-term care.
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Research shows that Americans want and value quality health care. The problem is that the quality of health care services varies in our country—a lot. For example, some health plans and doctors simply do a better job than others of helping you stay healthy and getting you better if you are ill.
Fortunately, health care quality can be measured, and it can be improved. You can find out how in a new guide developed by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care describes quality measures including consumer ratings, clinical performance measures, and accreditation—what they are, where to find them, and how to use them.
The Guide provides other information, such as the following "Quick-Checks for Quality," that summarize the major ways you can check for quality health care.
Look for a plan that:
_____ Has been rated highly by its members on the things that are important to you.
_____ Does a good job of helping people stay well and get better.
_____ Is accredited, if that is important to you.
_____ Has the doctors and hospitals you want or need.
_____ Provides the benefits you need.
_____ Provides services where and when you need them.
_____ Meets your budget.
Look for a doctor who:
_____ Is rated to give quality care.
_____ Has the training and background that meet your needs.
_____ Takes steps to prevent illness (for example, talks to you about quitting smoking).
_____ Has privileges at the hospital of your choice.
_____ Is part of your health plan, unless you can afford to pay extra.
_____ Encourages you to ask questions.
_____ Listens to you.
_____ Explains things clearly.
_____ Treats you with respect.
When choosing a treatment, make sure you understand:
_____ What your diagnosis is.
_____ Whether treatment is really needed at this time.
_____ What your treatment options are.
_____ Whether the treatment options are based on the latest scientific evidence.
_____ The benefits and risks of each treatment.
_____ The cost of each treatment.
Look for a hospital that:
_____ Is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
_____ Is rated highly by State or consumer or other groups.
_____ Is one where your doctor has privileges, if that is important to you.
_____ Is covered by your health plan.
_____ Has experience with your condition.
_____ Has had success with your condition.
_____ Checks and works to improve its own quality of care.
Look for long-term care that:
_____ Has been found by State agencies, accreditors, or others to provide quality care.
_____ Has the services you need.
_____ Has staff that meet your needs.
_____ Meets your budget.
This initiative is one effort of HHS to address the findings of the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.
AHCPR Publication No. 99-R027
Current as of December 1998