We all love to shop and get the best value for our money. But can you do that with medicine? Isn’t it too difficult to recognize quality healthcare? Well, being a smart consumer is always a good way to go, especially with medicine. And as a matter of fact, anyone can learn what quality healthcare looks like.
For instance, quality care is just a mixture of quality healthcare providers and the support they need to do their job right. Of course, that’s just the beginning of the story. But we’ll be filling in all the details so that you’ll be able to spot quality healthcare when you see it.
Meanwhile, it’s good to know that being able to spot quality care can save you money and improve your health. Also, you just get better care when you can spot the quality. For instance, you’ll get more time spent on your health concerns, more respectful service, and a better understanding of your medical issues. And that’s just the beginning.
Magic Bullet Confusion
Unfortunately, popular culture has made it harder to spot quality care. That is, the media and movies have always portrayed medicine in a romantic way. It’s all magic bullets, glitzy medical hardware, and high drama hospital heroics. But it misses the real truth of what quality medicine is.
Still, many see medicine as one big magic bullet. When in reality, the quick and complete cures promised by the magic bullet dream are infrequent in real medicine. Of course, it’s a great comfort to feel protected by a hugely powerful medicine. But it’s unrealistic to expect. And those that do, will find it harder to recognize quality care because it has nothing to do with magic bullets.
Medicine can give us better health and longer life. But to achieve these goals, we must learn from the experts. The experts understand quality healthcare. And they are telling us how to recognize it, and recognize it easily. So for just a moment, leave the comfort of the magic bullet, and see what the experts have to say.
Experts in Quality Healthcare
America’s leading experts in matters of medicine are the members of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The NAM operates under a charter from Congress signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The NAM is a private nonprofit and not part of the government. But it was created to give the government objective advice on health.
Healthcare quality is a focus of research in America. And many expert doctors and scientists have contributed to the effort. But a central moment came when the NAM held a meeting of America’s leading experts in quality care. The results were a shock to the medical community.
At the time, the NAM was known as the Institute of Medicine (IOM). In any case, the results of their meeting appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The title of the article was “The Urgent Need to Improve Health Care Quality.” Here’s what they said:
Serious and widespread quality problems exist throughout American medicine.
Very large numbers of Americans are harmed as a direct result.
These experts in healthcare quality concluded that we had to make some big changes to stop Americans from being harmed. They said
efforts to improve will not succeed without major effort. And they also said we must
overhaul how we:
deliver health care services.
educate and train clinicians.
assess and improve quality.
The scope of these statements covers virtually all of medicine. In essence, the experts had thrown down a huge challenge to modern medicine. Namely, protect patients from harm!
Experts Explain Quality Care
Soon after the challenge to protect patients was laid down, the NAM/IOM responded. They released a book called Crossing the Quality Chasm. In essence, it was a manual on how to improve the quality of American healthcare. It had six simple aims. The NAM recommendations were that healthcare should be:
- Safe – Provide care that does not injure patients.
- Effective – Provide care based on science. Provide care only to those who will benefit, but not those who won’t. Also, do not overuse or underuse medicine.
- Equitable – Provide care of the same quality no matter a person’s race, ethnicity, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, location, etc.
- Patient-Centered – Provide care that respects each patient’s
preferences, needs, and values.And make sure that
patient values guide all clinical decisions.
- Timely – Provide care promptly. Reduce wait times and delays that may cause harm.
- Efficient – Avoid wasting
equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.
These six aims were published about 20 years ago. So you’d expect these guidelines to be in wide use by now. But that has not been the case. Instead, adoption of these rules has been less than robust. And despite some success, progress has been disappointing.
Poor progress aside, work continues on the quality of our care. And there are many examples of ongoing work in this area. So we progress in the sense that we continue to learn. And one thing we learn is the nature of quality care. In other words, the NAM guidelines are showing us how to recognize quality.
How to Recognize Quality Healthcare
As mentioned at the start, quality care comes from good healthcare providers getting the support they need to do their best. In effect, the NAM is saying the same thing in its six guidelines listed above, only in more detail. So it’s best to focus on these six rules to explain exactly how to recognize quality healthcare.
Safe and Effective Care
Safe and effective medicine does not come from the quick cure of a magic bullet pill. It comes from the hard work of good providers. And that means it comes from the proper use of medical protocols (ie, guidelines).
Good healthcare providers do not act completely on their own. They are not magic bullet cowboys. They are team members, standing on the shoulders of their teammates. And their team is the entire institution of medicine. It includes all of the healthcare providers and scientists that together produce the protocols that power modern medicine.
These protocols are the rules of medical practice. They are based on science. So science is what makes your treatment the safest and most effective available. And therefore, science is the ultimate source of quality healthcare.
Medical protocols are ever changing as we move towards better healthcare. And the job of using these rules and keeping current is a tough one. It’s no cook book job. On the contrary, it’s very complex business. And so a good healthcare provider is always a great find.
Safe and effective healthcare providers
To be safe and effective, your provider should be using medical protocols and using them expertly. And if they are, you can notice it.
Look for your provider to be talking about protocols. They should explain how they made your diagnosis. And that means, they should speak to you about the “recommendations” or guidelines. In short, the best providers will reveal to you the protocols they use and their process of using them.
If a provider doesn’t ask you questions and explain their recommendations, it’s not good. And you should be wary if a provider just hands you a pill and hurries you out the door.
If you are very certain that you need an antibiotic, but your provider disagrees, listen. See if they carefully explain how they arrived at your diagnosis. And see if they point out the standard recommendations for your case. If so, you probably have a good provider.
Now, of course, even the best providers can be wrong. Their job is complex. And that is why we have second opinions.
But ask yourself. Does your provider seem dedicated to the proper use of protocol? And do your visits seem to revolve around the recommendations? With good providers, the answers will be yes.
Equitable, Patient-Centered Care
Recognizing equitable, patient centered care is intuitive. That is, people usually know it when their preferences, needs, and values are being respected. And of course, that’s how they define patient centered care. But also, patient centered care is key to providing equal quality care for all.
Patient centered care
You can expect the best quality providers to ask questions about who you are. They do this to better meet your needs. They should be interested in things like what work you do, and your family and economic situation. Good providers will want to hear anything you need to tell them about yourself.
You should notice them using this sort of information to give you better care. For instance, they may recommend an equal yet lower priced medicine if you’re short on funds. Or their knowledge about your work may help them diagnose the cause of an injury. But if your provider makes no effort at all to find out who you are, your chances of getting patient centered care are much less.
Medicine’s goal is equal quality healthcare for all. But racism is a barrier. Patients subjected to racism have experienced bigoted healthcare providers and support staff, as well as our racist medical system. But what can the victims of racism do?
How can patients dealing with bigotry ever get equal quality care when people dismiss their needs because of prejudice? The importance of this problem cannot be understated. And even though racism should be a top priority of the medical establishment, any progress against it is difficult to detect.
It’s simply the norm in America that certain people get poorer healthcare. For instance, people with low income must often go without healthcare to save money. In such cases, there are some solutions like community clinics. But under the circumstances, it’s clearly not enough.
We have failed to bring equal quality care to all. And there’s more to it than the often dangerous contact with bigots that many Americans endure. It’s about a general failure of the system. Too many people can’t see the struggles of others. Too much is about money at any cost. And sadly, solutions are not obvious to many.
But one thing is certain. There are many good healthcare providers out there pushing to get equal quality care for all. And these individual providers may be a good resource for patients trying to find ways to confront the inequality and improve their care. There are providers who care, and who understand the system and want to help.
Efficient Healthcare Without Waste
Waste and inefficiency in healthcare is largely a failing of the medical system. And sadly, we Americans are getting especially poor value for our healthcare dollar. We spend more for healthcare than any other wealthy country. Yet we have the shortest lifespans and highest chronic disease burdens of any of the wealthy countries.
The reasons for these poor results are complex. But in simple terms, there’s waste in the medical system. And one view is that this waste is caused by too much focus on healthcare profits. When, in fact, what we need is more focus on healthcare quality.
Floriamed Quality Healthcare
Floriamed is trying to switch healthcare’s focus from profits to quality. Here is how. First, we seek out healthcare providers dedicated to following the NAM quality guidelines. And then, we give them the tools and policies they need to do their best work.
In order to achieve the best quality care, Floriamed providers are nurse practitioners. We feel that nurses naturally follow the NAM quality guidelines because of their training. That is, nurse training has traditionally emphasized key elements of these guidelines.
For over 150 years, the nursing culture has focused on the art and science of care. Over that time, nurses have practiced patient centered care and carefully followed protocols with great precision. And they have a long reputation as dedicated patient advocates who consider their profession a calling.
Good nurses will readily take the time needed to connect with patients to form the bonds that are at the core of top quality care. And likewise, they will strive continuously to be top experts in using the science driven protocols that make medicine safe and effective. The result is practice excellence driven by nursing’s culture of care.
We Care at Floriamed
Floriamed fosters practice excellence by eliminating waste with a fast, simple, and direct way for having visits. With Floriamed, patients and providers can complete their visits without help. No other support staff is required.
Above all, the waste caused by the profit needs of big business are kept out of the healthcare process. As a result, the cost of a visit can be kept at industry lows. So what patients pay better reflects what providers make.
Low prices and easy access helps providers meet the NAM quality guidelines by improving equal access to equal quality care. And at Floriamed, providers are independent practitioners who control the quality of their care. Business concerns are not involved, as often seen in the medical industry. Because once practice excellence is found, independent providers yield the best care.
Floriamed providers care. For example, they make our Guarantee and Cost Protection Policy possible. This policy gives patients a way to avoid cost if their condition is not suitable for telemedicine. But it also gives Floriamed a chance to tell patients that our chief interest is the science of quality care, not profits. And that our highest priority is bringing you and your loved ones the best quality care.