The Relationship Between High Quality Healthcare and the Patient Experience

quality healthcare - doctor and patient

High quality healthcare should be a non-negotiable

High quality: it should be the goal in everything we do and experience. It seems like a no-brainer, right?

You would think so, but that’s unfortunately not always the case. We’ve all experienced less than stellar quality in many aspects of life, but there’s perhaps no arena in which low quality is more detrimental—and more unacceptable—than in healthcare.

Picture any of these scenarios (or maybe you don’t have to because you’ve experienced them firsthand):

  • You want to see a provider to address an urgent medical concern, but you can’t seem to get anyone on the phone to secure an appointment.
  • You feel rushed or unheard by a doctor during a consultation. You don’t have any time to ask questions or, when you do, you feel brushed aside.
  • You’re finding it so challenging to untangle the costs associated with a particular treatment or specialist visit that you completely give up and decide not to get the care at all…even if it means you have to suffer.
  • Months after starting to receive (and pay for) treatment, you learn that you received an incorrect diagnosis and didn’t even need the treatment to begin with.

Clearly, these are all examples of bad patient experiences—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s explore how high quality healthcare benefits patients.

What is quality in healthcare?

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality describes quality healthcare as safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable. Of course, this definition is very high-level, as there are many metrics that go into measuring each of those domains of quality.

At Carrum Health, we are committed to providing each and every one of our members with access to the highest quality healthcare. Leveraging our proprietary quality methodology, we rigorously and regularly examine more than 50 quality metrics at our center of excellence partners.

According to the NIH, the industry definition of quality healthcare has evolved over time to focus on “strengthening the link of quality with prevention and health promotion.” As knowledge grows, the standard of care must grow along with it so patients always have access to the best healthcare.

How does high quality healthcare directly impact the patient experience?

Without a focus on quality at every level of the healthcare system, it’s impossible to improve the experience of patients—and their health will likely be negatively impacted, as well. Here are four ways that high quality healthcare can make a positive impact on everyone involved:

1. The patient is at the center

Patients suffer when providers do not address their specific, individual needs. High quality healthcare keeps patients—their unique health history, their feelings, their preferences, their fears, their desires, their concerns—absolutely central.

Although facing a medical challenge can be scary, a patient who feels like they’ve been made part of the diagnosis and treatment processes and taken seriously every step of the way will come out with a better impression of their providers—and, ideally, this will help them become stronger advocates for their health in the future. Plus, when care is more tailored to a patient and that patient feels involved, they are more likely to be engaged with their care, which will in turn positively impact health outcomes.

2. It leads to better clinical outcomes

Of course we want patients to feel better—more confident, positive, taken care of—while they navigate the medical system…but quality healthcare goes further than that. In fact, higher quality healthcare correlates directly with better clinical outcomes. Providers and facilities that maintain high standards and keep quality at the core of their work see fewer patients returning because of complications or misdiagnoses.

For example, when it comes to surgical care, the RAND Corporation found that, in addition to directing 30% of patients who were recommended surgery to less invasive care (e.g., physical therapy), Carrum Health also reduced readmissions by 80% compared to the national average.

Ultimately, good health outcomes should be the goal of everyone working in the healthcare industry. That means high quality healthcare should be, too.

3. It’s more cost-effective

Everyone benefits financially when providers make correct diagnoses and treatment recommendations the first time, saving money for their hospitals and physician groups, the patient’s employer, and the patient by eliminating needless procedures (e.g., surgery avoidance) and minimizing complications that necessitate additional measures or readmission. Per the NIH, the average cost of hospital readmission after a total knee replacement is nearly $39,000—and that’s just one example of the unnecessary spend that’s often incurred with lower quality healthcare.

Patients have a better impression of a healthcare system that respects their time and resources—one that doesn’t leave them with piles of inexplicable bills. As a result, this makes them more likely to consult their doctors with concerns, meaning providers can offer more effective, efficient care. Everyone really does win when care is made approachable and affordable.

4. It reduces the emotional burden

Now that you have a better sense of what quality healthcare actually looks like, you can better imagine what patients experience when they’re on the receiving end of the opposite. Low quality healthcare takes its toll.

By reducing stress and helplessness and forging trusting bonds between providers and their patients, quality healthcare allows patients to make the best of whatever medical challenges they’re going through.

Center of excellence solutions and quality 

One way to maximize quality healthcare for your population is to partner with a centers of excellence (COE) program—specifically one that takes quality seriously. When evaluating programs, you might consider factors like appropriateness of care, readmission rates, price transparency, access to care, and communication with patients. When providers are held to a high standard of quality based on these and other metrics, patients emerge from a medical journey—regardless of its scale or specifics—feeling heard and respected… and often with better outcomes.

If nothing else, patients with access to quality healthcare will be able to secure appointments without making dozens of phone calls and spending hours on hold. And that, in itself, is an upgrade.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only. No material is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.