Cheat Sheets: Quality

Need a refresher on some of the most important organizations and methodologies associated with health care quality? Download our cheat sheets to get quick, 1-page briefings on evidence-based practice, HCAHPS, the joint commission, and quality measures.

Evidence-based practice

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is the explicit use of the best available medical evidence in making clinical decisions. Needing to improve cost efficiency and boost care quality, providers are investing significant time and resources into the creation and adoption of EBPs. These practices guide clinicians in providing patients with the right care, at the right level, at the right time.

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Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey was developed collaboratively by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ). The survey aims to produce data about patient experience of care that allows for objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals.

The questions address topics that are important to consumers, create new incentives for hospitals to improve quality of care, and enhance provider accountability in health care by increasing transparency of the quality of care. Included as a component of the Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program, CMS uses provider HCAHPS survey results to positively or negatively adjust individual hospitals’ Medicare reimbursement.

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The Joint Commission

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission (TJC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies hospitals and other types of health care organizations and providers. It is the largest health care accrediting body in the US. Providers often display the Joint Commission “Gold Seal of Approval” to indicate accreditation.

The Joint Commission’s goal is to improve health care quality. To meet this goal, it creates performance standards that providers must meet to achieve accreditation or certification. Because The Joint Commission was previously known as The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), providers occasionally refer to it by its earlier acronym JCAHO.

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Quality measures

Provider clinical quality is increasingly being measured and publicized. Progressive providers have long tracked clinical performance, but systematic efforts to measure hospital and physician quality began in the 1990s. In the last five years, financial consequences have increasingly been attached to quality scores. The ongoing movement toward greater performance accountability is reshaping clinical processes and financial strategy, creating new opportunities for vendors.

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