1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN, Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer

Article Content

Community members might know more about your organization's healthcare quality than you do. Consumers can readily access this information via the Internet or even in the local newspaper. Scary? It depends. The challenge for us as nurse leaders is to remain aware and understand the information that regulatory and commercial agencies release to the public.

FIGURE. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. No caption available.

Educated consumers are requesting comparable data to assist with making informed, reliable decisions. Healthcare is no longer excluded from buyer purchasing behavior. Just as consumers look for ways to procure value in the products and services they purchase, they seek organizations and individual providers who've demonstrated consistent quality performance in healthcare delivery. Consumer groups mobilize their efforts to ensure easy and reliable data access to determine whether or not care is delivered in a safe and appropriate manner, with demonstrated acceptable outcomes.


Determine the type of information provided to the consumer so that you can educate the public regarding data's meaning.


Many states have implemented or are considering legislation that mandates public reporting of key performance measures. Advocates for the disclosure of healthcare performance data believe that patients have the right to make informed decisions regarding their care. The consensus seems to be that once information is readily available to the consumer, it will provide the impetus necessary to ensure that hospital leaders and healthcare professionals focus on improving care quality.


By simply accessing an Internet search engine, consumers reach links that provide them data regarding key quality indicators and comparison performance ratings of other institutions. Outcome measures such as risk-adjusted mortality, surgical complications, nosocomial infection, and cesarean rates, and process indicators such as pneumonia and myocardial infarction care are commonly reported measures.


Many healthcare organizations, professional groups, and individual practitioners oppose public reporting of quality data, citing the inability of the consumer to correctly interpret the data, inaccuracies, misleading media coverage, and poorly constructed comparisons. Although several problems exist in the data reporting, the exposure of data has been ignited by the public and is actually more likely to be aggressive in the future.


It's anticipated that future reporting requirements will contain nurse-sensitive quality indicators such as fall index, nosocomial decu-bitus ulcer rates, acuity-driven nurse-to-patient staffing, and patient satisfaction. Your facility should have implementation strategies currently underway to ensure that evidence-based protocols are in place for appropriately rendered nursing care.


As care providers, we need to work collaboratively with commercial and regulatory groups to determine national parameters of performance. Medical and nursing educated professionals need to share expertise to minimize the chance that data can be inappropriately used or misinterpreted. Actively engage in determining the type of information provided to the consumer so that we can educate the public regarding data's meaning.


Quality performance is no longer discussed only in boardrooms. As nurse leaders, let's ensure that our staffs are well versed regarding the quality performance of their institution so that they can adequately answer questions posed by their patients. Consumer demands will increase competition, mandate performance, and insist that organizations strive for excellence.