More Information on Quality, Patient Safety
Quality and patient safety are essential attributes of good health services. The WHO Health Systems Framework emphasizes the importance of achieving greater access to and coverage for effective health interventions combined with continued efforts to ensure provider quality and patient safety, for health systems to achieve overall goals of improving health and health equity in ways that are responsive and financially fair and making the most efficient use of available resources.
Taking a whole-system perspective, and orienting systems to the delivery and improvement of quality, are fundamental to progress and to meeting the expectations of both populations and health care workers. Quality efforts should be a permanent part of a health systems supported by multidisciplinary actions.
WHO has developed a set of competencies to equip health practitioners with ability and skills to ensure continuous improvements in the quality and safety of heralth care The following working definitions of quality in health care are suggested by WHO (2006). It suggests that a health system should seek to make improvements in six dimensions of quality. These dimensions require that health care be:
- effective, delivering health care that is adherent to an evidence base and results in improved health outcomes for individuals and communities, based on need;
- efficient, delivering health care in a manner which maximized resource use and avoids waste;
- accessible, delivering health care that is timely, geographically reasonable, and provided in a setting where skills and resources are appropriate to medical need;
- acceptable/patient-centered, delivering health care which takes into account the preferences and aspirations of individual service users and the cultures of their communities;
- equitable, delivering health care which does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, geographical location, or socio-economic status;
- safe, delivering health care which minimizes risks and harm to service users.
Quality and patient safety is one of WHO's priorities in the health systems work. WHO is committed to continue its focus on quality and patient safety, and systems and procedures. Related work on quality will foster approaches that take account of the full spectrum of interventions needed: treatment protocols and clinical management schedules; supportive supervision and performance assessment; training and continuing education; procedures for registration; licensing and inspection; and forum for dialogue and motivating providers.