In a 1964 Supreme Court case, Justice Potter Steward wrote the majority opinion on whether a movie violated Ohio’s pornography laws. Potter wrote, “I shall not attempt further to define the kinds of material,” and he went on to say, “but I know it when I see it, and the motion picture is not that.”
While this approach may have worked for the Supreme Court in a pornography case, we cannot rely upon implicit criteria that vary from person to person to evaluate the quality of care. First, let us define quality broadly to understand better the factors used to measure it. Quality care is the result of the patient-clinician transaction. This transaction encompasses the quality of the clinical outcomes and the quality of the patient experience, both evaluated by broadly agreed-upon metrics. How the physician diagnoses, documents, and resolves the clinical problem using the best possible practices determines outcome quality. This effort requires the physician to utilize best practices, established procedures, and proper functionality for diagnosis and treatment. The physician must also provide a satisfying service that delivers a positive patient experience.
What do you think about this approach to quality? What are the challenges to defining and collecting metrics? I look forward to your thoughts, so please submit your comments in this post. Thanks for your time today.