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Quality is a hallmark of health care, although it is difficult to come to a consensus on who gets to define what "quality health care" is. Most health-care workers enter this field with the goal of improving the health of their patients (and the community), and while everyone tries to do the best job possible, we must continuously seek better methods and techniques for achieving better outcomes. The passion for continuous improvement is fundamental, but passion is not sufficient by itself. There is substantial opportunity to improve quality and reduce cost in health care. Multidisciplinary teams that include physicians, nurses, and other ancillary care providers have led to decreased waiting times to see specialists and have also led to better management of chronic disease. By including ancillary care, providers can increase cancer-screening rates and have the potential to decrease readmissions. Moreover, the addition of hospitalists and physician assistants can produce quality and efficiency outcomes that are commensurate with those enjoyed by traditional house staff. However, truly improving performance is difficult due to questions about how we define "quality," design care processes, measure inputs and outputs, develop multi-stakeholder collaborations, and develop incentive programs for delivering "good" care. There is a definite need for more thorough and robust studies of the impact of pay-for-performance programs, with the inclusion of ancillary care providers. Current research has not shown that there is not enough evidence to be able to determine what incentive structure might "work" in a particular health-care system. Payment systems will continue to evolve to incentivize greater collaboration among providers to yield higher-quality, lower-cost care. Future efforts will necessitate the need for strong physician leadership in helping to develop an optimal care team that is as patient-centered as possible. Technology adds dimensions of capability to making improvement real and systematic, as well as providing safer care with fewer errors and better adherence to proven best practices. The drive for quality with technology produces better clinical outcomes and maximizes efficiencies and financial metrics of organizational performance. Technology also adds capabilities for capturing key metrics and reporting them back to clinicians and others. Improved data transparency informs those who can actually do things differently to produce better results and outcomes. While health-care entities strive to focus on quality of care, measuring and reporting such care in a meaningful way are difficult. The best chance of improving overall care for patients is through the adoption of systems that improve coordination and continuity, not by health-care staff working harder. Only through collaboration and integration can health care incorporate a culture for improving quality and patient safety.

Original publication




Journal article


J bone joint surg am

Publication Date





Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip, Australia, Benchmarking, Canada, Checklist, Humans, Orthopedic Procedures, Orthopedics, Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care), Postoperative Complications, Quality Improvement, Quality of Health Care, United Kingdom, United States, World Health Organization