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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Understanding Quality Reports

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I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

Improving quality and patient safety is a top priority of Texas Health Resources. Patients expect and deserve quality, safe, innovative care as measured by outcomes and effectiveness.

However, there are no uniform standards for measuring the quality of hospital and physician care. For example, neither the health care industry nor quality monitoring groups have a single definition of what constitutes quality.

There are accurate and informative measurements related to quality and patient safety. Unfortunately, there also are measures that could mislead. Often, sample size is too small to provide meaningful measures of quality, and the data that is collected is often taken from billing records, where clerical miscoding can lead to faulty assumptions.

The health care industry must work with payers – that is, employers , managed care companies and the government – to develop a uniform set of quality and patient safety measures. Such measures would not only enable consumers to compare apples to apples when evaluating and selecting providers, but also encourage providers to make real improvements in outcomes.

The THR Web site at is a good resource. It includes a section on quality and patient safety as well as opinions about the usefulness and limitations of various measurements.

Ultimately, all quality data should serve as a starting point for consumers to ask questions of their physicians.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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