Healthcare: Bridging the Quality of Care Chasm

The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants has published an important paper on the organization’s assessment of the state of healthcare quality in the United States. It’s important precisely because it does not merely decry the state of healthcare in this country but provides those engaged in healthcare, particularly physician assistants, with an action plan on how to bridge the quality chasm in health services. In so doing, the authors of the paper use an acronym to oultine specific qualities of good healthcare. STEEEP refers to safe, timely, equitable, efficient, effective, and patient centered. The authors correctly note that all healthcare providers should measure their actions in terms of this acronym.
In introducing these characteristics of quality healthcare, the authors recognize some significant accomplishments and further challenges in overcoming the healthcare quality chasm.
“Most patient safety errors result from systems errors, not from individual errors. High-reliability organizations, such as those involved in commercial aviation, are frequently used as a standard by which other industries are measured in terms of reporting, standardization of work, assessment, and education in the context of safety. In an attempt to advance the technology of medicine, the most recent innovation centers around electronic health records (EHRs), which promote electronic prescribing, automatic patient reminders, patient education, and evidence-based guidelines.
Electronic health record systems that utilize e-prescribing have reduced medication errors and adverse events and resulted in improved communication. The adoption of new technology and practice tools must be done thoughtfully and deliberately; incorporating regular feedback from health care providers is critical in assuring compliance with workflow. Finally, research on interprofessional team collaboration and its effects on delivering higher-quality and safer health care must continue as delivery of care continues to become more and more complex.”