The Roles of Government in Improving Health Care Quality and Safety

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Abstract:

Background: Discussions surrounding the role of government have been and continue to be a favorite American pastime. A framework is provided for understanding the 10 roles that government plays in improving health care quality and safety in the United States. Examples of proposed federal actions to reduce medical errors and enhance patient safety are provided to illustrate the 10 roles: (1) purchase health care, (2) provide health care, (3) ensure access to quality care for vulnerable populations, (4) regulate health care markets, (5) support acquisition of new knowledge, (6) develop and evaluate health technologies and practices, (7) monitor health care quality, (8) inform health care decision makers, (9) develop the health care workforce, and (10) convene stakeholders from across the health care system.

Conclusion: Government's responsibility to protect and advance the interests of society includes the delivery of high-quality health care. Because the market alone cannot ensure all Americans access to quality health care, the government must preserve the interests of its citizens by supplementing the market where there are gaps and regulating the market where there is inefficiency or unfairness. The ultimate goal of achieving high quality of care will require strong partnerships among federal, state, and local governments and the private sector. Translating general principles regarding the appropriate role of government into specific actions within a rapidly changing, decentralized delivery system will require the combined efforts of the public and private sectors.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: January 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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