What does quality healthcare mean? In episode 6 of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast, Rob Oliver interviewed Lindsay Parks, an osteopathic family physician from rural western Pennsylvania. Early in the interview they talked about what is quality healthcare. Here is an excerpt from the interview where Lindsay answers the question, “What does quality healthcare mean to you?” There is also a follow-up question about the relationship between quality healthcare and positive outcomes for patients.
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Rob Oliver: What does quality healthcare mean to you?
Lindsay Parks: Well that’s a great question and quality initiatives are being studied and enforced by many of the third party payers, they are actually rating their physicians and physicians have to now maintain a number of items of quality or they may not be able to stay with the organization, so they base quality mostly on outcomes. But along the way towards outcomes, there are many, many things that have to be checked, many boxes that have to be checked. To make sure that each patient for each diagnosis is being given the very best medical care that nothing is being missed, and that all bases are being covered so quality has taken on a really bigger new meaning over the last 10 or 15 years okay.
Rob Oliver: I’m curious to get your opinion on this, if quality is based on outcomes sometimes there are times it’s not going to be a good outcome. If somebody is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the, the outcome is obviously going to be their passing. How can we… what’s your opinion on how to judge the quality of healthcare that the person is receiving, that when you don’t know, when sometimes the outcomes aren’t good or that you know, sometimes… For example, for someone like me who acquired a disability that’s not the desired outcome, you would like to be able to walk into do all those kinds of things, how do you judge quality healthcare when it comes to, you know, not the most desirable of outcomes.
Lindsay Parks: That’s a great question, going into the care of a patient there are realistic expectations that should be set between the physician and the patient and I viewed it that it was always a team approach to that. I could never force anything on a patient if they did not want it. Certainly in a terminal illness, there still are quality of care issues you want to make sure that the patient is being cared for socially and emotionally and spiritually as well as physically and in a terminal care case you want to make sure they get the best care heading into the terminology, because every once in a while you have the great joy of seeing it turned around but specifically for someone who is terminally ill, you want to make sure that their last days here are days without pain and suffering and to maintain their dignity, so there are a lot of things that go into that.