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.