Quality patient care may have as many definitions as there are health care practitioners, but, increasingly, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) definition is becoming widely accepted as the industry standard.  In its landmark report, Crossing the Quality Chasm:  A New Health System for the 21st Century, the IOM defined quality as “the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge.”

IOM further describes the attributes of quality health care as being:

  • Safe – avoiding injury to patients from care that is intended to help them, without accidental error or inadvertent exposures
  • Timely – reducing waits and harmful delays impacting smooth flow of care
  • Effective – providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit (avoiding overuse and underuse)
  • Efficient – using resources to achieve best value by reducing waste and reducing production and administrative costs
  • Equitable – providing care that does not vary in quality according to personal characteristics such as gender, income, ethnicity, location
  • Patient Centered – providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values

A recent column in Executive Insight, entitled “Establishing a Culture of Quality,” describes how one integrated health care delivery system is putting these attributes into action.  Leaders at Texas-based Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH), have not only embraced the six qualities, but also have transformed them into the acronym “STEEEP,” to symbolize the challenge of climbing a mountain, and as a rallying cry to quality.

The column went on to describe how being dedicated to exceptional quality at every level “begins with a formal commitment from the highest levels of leadership to making quality of care a top organizational priority.”  Similarly, laboratorians, who play a natural integrator role across health care teams through their use of Laboratory Information System (LIS) technology, can help drive quality across the continuum of clinical care by:

  • coordinating test results among providers
  • controlling test utilization
  • identifying risks and control for all phases of laboratory testing and other metrics which can spotlight opportunities for cost savings and patient care improvements

As we begin a new year, it’s a good time to assess how STEEEP is your mountain.  While undoubtedly challenging, perhaps it’s not as tall as you think.

About The Author

As the Chief Executive Officer at COLA, Mr. Beigel leads a dynamic team responsible for helping nearly 8,000 laboratories across the country fulfill their accreditation obligations under the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988. He has received numerous awards including the “Edwards Medal” from The American Society for Quality (ASQ) in recognition of his leadership and contributions to the field of quality methodology and The “Award of Excellence in Finance and Administration” from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) which honors extraordinary efforts to solve intricate problems through creative technology applications. Mr. Beigel is a member of ASAE, the American Association of Medical Society Executives (AAMSE), and Sigma Iota Epsilon. A resident of Howard County, Maryland for over 30 years, Mr. Beigel is active in the community, serving on the Board of Trustees for both the Howard Hospital Foundation and the Howard County Police Foundation. In addition, he also serves as a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Howard County and the Howard County Leadership program. He received his MA from Loyola College and an MBA from the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore.