Quality of Care


Quality of care is the degree to which health care services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge (1).

The right care for the right person at the right time

- Carolyn Clancy, former Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHQR)

Being able to access health care does not guarantee an individual will receive high quality care that will produce an optimal health outcome. Unfortunately, poor quality of care can have serious consequences. A 2016 study found that approximately 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors, which the study’s authors reported would make medical errors the third leading cause of death in the United States (2).

While there are many of ways to measure quality in health care, this assessment was able to identify data on customer satisfaction, which addresses patient perception of the quality of the care they received. Data is also presented from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care on patients receiving appropriate treatment and screening.

Implications and Data for Jefferson County

Community Health Needs Assessment Focus Group Findings

Focus group participants concerns around quality of care provided in their community centered around expanded access to care, health-related resources in rural communities, and the need for culturally and linguistically competent care.  

Community Health Needs Assessment Key Informant Interview Findings

Key informants relayed concerns that centered on the need for greater cultural and linguistic competency in care provided within the county.

Health Disparities and Inequities

Quality of health care received by an individual varies markedly by their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity and residential location (3). In a 2016, report on the quality of care in the United States, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, using over 100 quality measures, found that:

• Individuals from poor households received lower quality care than people from high-income households for about 60 percent of quality measures,

• Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and blacks received lower quality care than whites on 40 percent of quality measures,

• Asians received lower quality care than whites on 20 percent of quality measures, and

• Disparities in quality of care exist among individuals who belong to a community of color (3).

The receipt of appropriate treatment/screening also varies markedly by a person's insurance type (Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, or Private insurance). In 2015, people with private insurance received appropriate treatment/screening more often than people with Medicaid or Medicare Advantage.


Reference List

1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2017, November). Understanding Quality Measurement. Retrieved from: https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/chtoolbx/understand/index.html

2. Makary, M., Michael, D. (2016). Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US. BMJ; 353 :i2139. Retrieved from: https://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139

3. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2016, April). 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy (AHRQ Pub. No. 16-0015). Retrieved from: https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/research/findings/nhqrdr/nhqdr15/2015nhqdr.pdf


Data Sources

CIVHC: Center for Improving Value in Health Care: http://www.civhc.org/get-data/

Health Services Advisory Group: Enrollee Experiences in the Medicare-Medicaid Financial Alignment Initiative

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Published on July 17, 2018