Understanding Quality of Care
What is quality in health care?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) dedicated to improving quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans, defines quality in health care as providing the best care, the most appropriate care, and achieving the best outcomes for all patients.
Partners HealthCare is committed to providing high quality, safe, and effective care for all of our patients at all of our hospitals.
How we measure quality
This website was designed to help visitors see how we are doing in providing high quality health care. Partners publicly reports performance in important areas including Treating Clinical Conditions, Prevention and Chronic Care, Keeping Patients Safe, Patient Experience, and providing Cost-Effective care using visual displays as well as tables of data.
In health care, there are three categories of metrics:
- Structural measures – Structural measures assess how well an organization is performing with regard to its infrastructure, resources and characteristics. Structural measures are the building blocks of health care quality and they can include things like physical buildings, physicians’ credentials and skills, as well as technology. One example of a structural metric on this website is Patient Portal Adoption.
- Process measures – Many of the measures on our site evaluate how well we are performing on a particular process. These measures are meant to determine how a particular system works. Many of our process measures ultimately come back to evaluating whether patients receive the right care at the right time. Examples of process metrics from our site include Opening Blocked Arteries Within 90 Minutes for heart attack patients, timely cancer screenings, and asthma care.
- Outcome measures – Outcome measures describe the results of the care received by a patient. These measures are often of particular importance to patients because they tell whether patients are recovering well after a hospital visit. Outcome measures currently on our site include infection rates for C. Diff (clostridium difficile) and central line associated bloodstream infections, as well as readmissions to the hospital after discharge. In the future we hope to add many more meaningful outcome measures to this site.
When it is possible, we compare our performance to national or state benchmarks. For other measures, we set internal performance goals. For each measure, we explain why we believe the measure is important, how we are doing, and what we are doing to improve our current performance.