Quality Healthcare for American Citizens

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In an advanced society such as ours, it is unfortunate we are not able to provide what should be a basic human right to all American citizens, quality healthcare. The quality or level of healthcare should be a right for all and not a privilege for some. Once a single definition is established, health care professionals can begin to measure quality and improve the process of healthcare in this country. The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines quality healthcare as "doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right person, and having the best possible results." www.ahrq.gov/consumer/qnt/qntlook.htm. Once the industry establishes what is wrong, it can begin to devise some solutions to improve the quality of healthcare. With that said, how can an acceptable level of quality of health care be assured for all American citizens? In the past two decades, high increases in advancements have occurred in medicine and technology. However, the healthcare system continues to perform far below acceptable levels in the areas promoting patient safety, as well as addressing the quality of care received. Physicians are confronted with increasing demands to ensure and improve quality care for their patients. A variety of approaches claim to provide solutions to the problems of healthcare delivery. The United States however, is the only major industrialized nation in the world that does not provide cradle to grave health care for its citizens. We produce ground breaking technology in the medical field, yet still seem to ignore the quality care needed for our citizens. The U.S spends twice as much per person on health care as Canada and some European countries however, we have worse outcomes when it comes to the quality of medical care received. Receiving the right type of care in the correct setting, affordable health insurance, managed care, and technological advancements all play a role in increasing the quality of care received. Palliative care programs are rapidly diffusing and have been shown quality of care for America's sickest and most complex patients. As defined by CMS, "Palliative care is patient friendly and family centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering." (Edsley & Magill, p.38). The chronically and seriously ill constitute for only about 5-10% of patients, but account for well over half of the nations healthcare costs. (Edsley & Magill, p.41). Palliative care programs are part of the solution to this rapidly growing quality of care crisis. Palliative programs address pain and symptoms that cause misery to patients living with chronic illness. Palliative care centers help to provide expert treatment of pain and other symptoms, meet with patients, family members, and physicians to establish clear and feasible care goals, address care alternatives, and develop safe and effective discharge plans for more medically complex patients. Because of the assistance provided to already time pressured physicians, palliative care programs are valued and heavily utilized by many referring physicians with the hopes that the patient receives better quality of care. With these methods, palliative care programs improve the quality of medical care received, while also reducing readmissions, emergency department visits, as well as cost. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 also contained several provisions enabling the Health Care Financial Administration to be able to address quality issues more effectively in Medicare Funded home health agencies. Home health care services provide an effective and safe alternative to institutional care. "Lessons learned from ORT and industry responses will help assure that home health care will be a beneficiary centered service that safeguards both payers and recipients from fraud and abuse while ensuring adherence to appropriate standards of quality care." (Sultz & Young, p. 303). Being able to provide reimbursement for...
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