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Why Not Give Consumers A Framework for Understanding Quality?

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Background: Consumers care about the quality of medical care but do not pay attention to currently available quality information or use it to make more informed health care choices. According to the theory of constructed preferences, when people are in a situation that is both complex and unfamiliar, they likely do not have fixed ideas about what is important to them. This theory seems to describe the situation of consumers and comparative quality information. The alternative would be to help consumers understand the overall concept of quality and the different elements that make up quality of care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Crossing the Quality Chasm provides a framework for understanding, measuring, and evaluating the quality of medical care.

Impact of Providing a Framework for Understanding Quality: Focus groups were conducted in 2001 to determine what performance information they would like to see to help them select a physician. The findings indicated that consumers' understanding of health care quality information was expanded to include a broader array of factors when a cogent framework was used to present quality information.

Using the IOM Framework for All Public Reporting on Quality: The IOM framework or a modified version should be used for all public reporting on health care quality. The consistent use of some or all of the six IOM categories of performance reporting will reinforce the message that this is what constitutes high-quality care and it is what the public should expect to know when they make health care choices.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: June 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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