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Quick Checks for Quality

Choosing Quality Health Care

Quick Checks for Quality summarizes the major ways you can check for quality in health care. The information in it comes from Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care, which is based on research about the information people want and need when making decisions about health plans, doctors, treatments, hospitals, and long-term care.

Contents

Introduction
Quick Checks for Quality
    Health Plans
    Doctors
    Treatments
    Hospitals
    Long-Term Care

Introduction

Research shows that Americans want and value quality health care. The problem is that the quality of health care services varies in our country—a lot. For example, some health plans and doctors simply do a better job than others of helping you stay healthy and getting you better if you are ill.

Fortunately, health care quality can be measured, and it can be improved. You can find out how in a new guide developed by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care describes quality measures including consumer ratings, clinical performance measures, and accreditation—what they are, where to find them, and how to use them. Select to access the Guide.

The Guide provides other information, such as the following "Quick-Checks for Quality," that summarize the major ways you can check for quality health care.

Quick Checks for Quality

Look for a plan that:

_____Has been rated highly by its members on the things that are important to you.
_____Does a good job of helping people stay well and get better.
_____Is accredited, if that is important to you.
_____Has the doctors and hospitals you want or need.
_____Provides the benefits you need.
_____Provides services where and when you need them.
_____Meets your budget.

Look for a doctor who:

_____Is rated to give quality care.
_____Has the training and background that meet your needs.
_____Takes steps to prevent illness (for example, talks to you about quitting smoking).
_____Has privileges at the hospital of your choice.
_____Is part of your health plan, unless you can afford to pay extra.
_____Encourages you to ask questions.
_____Listens to you.
_____Explains things clearly.
_____Treats you with respect.

When choosing a treatment, make sure you understand:

_____What your diagnosis is.
_____Whether treatment is really needed at this time.
_____What your treatment options are.
_____Whether the treatment options are based on the latest scientific evidence.
_____The benefits and risks of each treatment.
_____The cost of each treatment.

Look for a hospital that:

_____Is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
_____Is rated highly by State or consumer or other groups.
_____Is one where your doctor has privileges, if that is important to you.
_____Is covered by your health plan.
_____Has experience with your condition.
_____Has had success with your condition.
_____Checks and works to improve its own quality of care.

Look for long-term care that:

_____Has been found by State agencies, accreditors, or others to provide quality care.
_____Has the services you need.
_____Has staff that meet your needs.
_____Meets your budget.

This initiative is one effort of HHS to address the findings of the President's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.

AHCPR Publication No. 99-R027
Current as of December 1998


Internet Citation:

Quick Checks for Quality: Choosing Quality Health Care. Consumer brochure, December 1998. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/quick.htm


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Department of Health and Human Services



Individial Health Links

  • Checkup on Health Insurance Choices

  • Choosing and Using a Health Plan

  • Quick Checks for Quality: Choosing Quality Health Care

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