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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What should you know about health care quality?

    How is health care quality defined?

    Most people would probably define quality as receiving the best care possible for one's illness or condition. It would certainly include the avoidance of errors or mistakes. And for many, it also includes the entire experience of receiving care – including respectful treatment by medical professionals and clear answers to your questions.

    Until recently there hasn't been a consistent way to measure health care quality. Sutter Health is joining with federal and state agencies, employers, accrediting bodies and other health care organizations to provide standard quality indicators that patients and consumers can use when comparing quality.

    These measures also enable us to see how we perform against state and national benchmarks. We monitor our performance and implement quality improvement plans to continually raise the bar on quality.

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    Who oversees the quality of care?

    Many organizations are interested in monitoring the quality of care provided by hospitals and medical groups, including Federal and state agencies, employer coalitions, and health plans. They use this information to ensure that patients receive care that is safe and effective.

    Within Sutter Health, our quality efforts are overseen by our governing Boards of Directors. Local and regional boards, comprised of community leaders, are responsible for monitoring the quality of care provided by each of our affiliated hospitals and physician organizations. In addition, the Quality Committee of the Sutter Health Board oversees quality initiatives across our entire network.

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    What are quality indicators?

    Our hospitals and physician organizations provide data to state and national agencies so they can report on our quality. These "quality indicators" have been chosen by Federal and state agencies and other health care experts as measurements of high quality medical care for certain conditions representing some of the most common and costly conditions that hospitals treat. They measure whether important, recommended medical treatments are given to achieve the best results for patients.
    By analyzing and reporting on a common set of measures, doctors and their patients can compare information easier and make informed decisions from reliable sources.

    The goal of quality transparency is not only to help health care organizations focus on improvement efforts, but also to empower and educate consumers.

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    How do you make a decision based on quality indicators?

    There are many important considerations when you need to choose a doctor, or receive care in a hospital. Among them should be quality indicators, which can tell you how that medical group or hospital performs in key areas related to your condition. Remember, however, that these are statistics, gathered over time from hundreds and thousands of patients. They are not predictors of your own outcome or situation, but can help reassure you that you are receiving your care in a facility with high standards.

    As you study quality indicators, on this site and on others, it is important to take the time to understand them. You should know what is being measured, and why, and for what time period. If you visit more than one site to view quality indicators, be sure that you are comparing "apples to apples." And you should be sure that each site you visit represents a source you can trust.

    If your study of quality indicators raises any questions about the facility you may choose to receive care, then talk the issue over with your physician. Your own health care team can make the best recommendation about your particular situation.

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    How is Sutter Health partnering with other agencies to improve quality of care?

    Sutter Health has partnered with other third-party agencies to help provide a consistent way to measure health care quality. Nationally, Sutter Health is a supporter of the Healthcare Quality Alliance (HQA), a coalition of providers, consumer and employer advocate groups and government agencies, who collaborated to create the Hospital Compare website. Here in California, Sutter Health is actively involved in the California Hospitals Assessment and Reporting Task Force (CHART). It's goal is to educate and engage members of the public about their health care choices. Sutter Health also voluntary provides data to several other respected organizations.
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