The ARHP has an important role to play as the ACR addresses the emerging quality movement in healthcare. Most healthcare professionals are familiar with terms such as quality assurance, continuous quality improvement, and total quality management. In the late 1980s, healthcare organizations, following the lead of the manufacturing industry, began to implement quality-management programs as a way to improve the quality and cost efficiency of healthcare services and meet rising consumer expectations.
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The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) 1999 report, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” brought renewed attention to healthcare quality. The report estimated that between 44,000 and 98,000 people in the United States died every year as a result of medical errors, and that the total cost of medical errors was between $17 billion and $29 billion. According to a subsequent IOM report, “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,” problems in the quality of healthcare persist because the healthcare system “frequently falls short in its ability to translate knowledge into practice, and to apply new technology safely and appropriately.”
The IOM defines quality of care as “the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge.”1 Providing high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered services is important to rheumatology health professionals in every practice environment.
ARHP and Outcomes
The ARHP works in a number of ways to advance the knowledge and skills of rheumatology health professionals in order to improve care. ARHP has a long history of encouraging and supporting outcomes research. In 1997, the December issue of Arthritis Care & Research was devoted to “Assessing the Quality and Outcomes of Care for Rheumatic Diseases.” In October 2003, a compilation of rheumatology outcome measures was published as a supplement to Arthritis & Rheumatism titled “Patient Outcomes in Rheumatology: A Review of Measures.”
Quality within the College
ARHP continues to focus on improving quality of care. We work closely with the ACR on a number of quality initiatives to help rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals identify and implement evidence-based best practices. We have representatives on the ACR Quality Leadership Council and the Quality Measures Committee and subcommittees to ensure the integration of an interprofessional perspective into these quality activities.
To learn what the ACR is doing to assist members in the quality movement, visit the Quality Measures pages at www.rheumatology.org. There, you’ll find an overview of the ACR’s quality initiatives and links to more detailed information on each of these initiatives. The Quality Measures Resource Library provides information and tools to help members learn more about the quality movement and offers links to other quality-related Web sites and recommended readings, including the 2006 ACR Practice View, “The Quality Movement: Rheumatologists Need to be Prepared.”
Karen Kerr is president of ARHP and a pediatric nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.