“Quality” health care has a wide variety of meanings. To me, it used to have a very vague meaning. I felt good about my doctor if I thought I received a thorough examination, was treated politely by my doctor’s staff, and was able to schedule an appointment within a reasonable amount of time. While these are important quality issues, receiving high quality “clinical” care is even more important. In the last several years I’ve learned what high quality clinical care means.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Quality measures are a sort of scorecard for my physician and me. In other words, quality measures show me how often my doctor provides high quality care to me and to other patients with my condition. These measures include the most important clinical tests, exams, and advice that will have the greatest impact on my health. For example, I have diabetes. There are a set of goals for managing diabetes that have been documented by research and experience to lead to the best patient outcomes. So it’s important for my doctor and me to know what the goals are to ensure I get the exams and advice I need to stay healthy.
The diabetes goals are called the “D5” and they include:
Goal #1: Keep blood pressure under 140/90 mmHg
Goal #2: Keep bad cholesterol (LDL) under 100mg/dl
Goal #3: Keep blood sugar (A1C) less than 8%
Goal #4: Be tobacco-free
Goal #5: Take aspirin daily as recommended
Why is the D5 important to me?
D5 is used to evaluate the care I’m receiving from my doctor’s office. I can view how well my health care facility performs in the D5 categories compared to other facilities in my area by going to the yourhealthmatters.org website.
I need to do my part too and the D5 also helps me be accountable. For example, I have changed my diet and implemented regular exercise to maintain an optimum LDL cholesterol level.
It makes it easier for me and my doctor to work together to set and achieve goals that will help better manage my diabetes. We recently set a goal to lower my hemoglobin A1C to 6.5. My doctor has made simple adjustments on my insulin pump and has me electronically submit weekly glucose logs between appointments to measure the effectiveness of the changes.
When I achieve D5 success, I reduce my risk for complications such as heart attack, stroke and problems with my kidneys, eyes and nervous system.
Hospitals and doctors differ in how well they provide appropriate care to patients. The quality of the care they provide influences my health. YourHealthMatters.org uses the D5 to evaluate the diabetes care that specific practices in Cincinnati provide. It explains it to me in a way I understand. You should search your doctor’s office to measure the quality of care of their patients compared to others in the area. These measurable resources are facts. You are empowered as a patient. Your part is to use it.
Health Care Consumer