At Georgians for a Healthy Future, we believe that Georgia can significantly improve the quality of health care within our state. The receipt of timely and appropriate screenings, preventive services, and treatments can result in earlier diagnoses, coordinated care, better health outcomes, and overall savings for consumers, employers, and state government.
How is Health Care Quality Defined?
A common definition of health care quality is getting the right care, in the right setting, at the right time. The Institute of Medicine, in its indispensible report “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,” determined that a high quality health care system should feature care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable.(1) While Georgia boasts many providers and health systems that provide superb care, many of the quality and outcome indicators for our state illustrate the need for overall improvement.
How is Health Care Quality Measured?
One approach to measuring quality of care is to examine outcomes such as life expectancy, infant mortality, and obesity. Another approach is to look at process indicators for standard procedures that are known to be beneficial. For example, one such indicator is the percentage of hospitalized patients who received recommended care for a heart attack.
How is Georgia Faring on the Issue of Quality?
In a recent state-by-state ranking of overall quality of care, Georgia ranked 50th, with an infant mortality rate considerably higher than the national average (8.15 per 1,000 live births) and obesity and diabetes incidence rates above the national average. The share of Georgia’s population that smokes, however, was lower than the national average at 19.4 percent.(2) On a separate nationwide state scorecard, Georgia ranked 47th in the percentage of hospitalized patients who received recommended care for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia, and 41st in the percentage of surgical patients who received appropriate care to prevent complications. Georgia did, however, rank 3rd in the percentage of home health patients who get better at walking and moving around.(3) While there are some bright spots for Georgia, an investment in quality improvement could considerably improve our state’s outcomes and result in potential cost savings in the long run.
1 Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,” Institute of Medicine, 2001.
2 State of State Health, New America Foundation
3 The Commonwealth Fund State Scorecard 2009