Quality of Care

Do We Care?

Published In: Annals of Internal Medicine, v. 115, No 6, Sept 15 1991, p. 486-490

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1991

by Robert H. Brook

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The quality of U.S. health care must improve. Practicing physicians need to become involved in generating new knowledge about what does and does not work in medical practice. Physicians might, for example, participate in building national databases on chronic and acute conditions using data from their patients or might help to enroll patients in cohort studies or experimental trials. Furthermore, our knowledge is now sufficient to support a substantial investment of funds in improving what physicians now do in medical practice and in developing publicly available standards of medical practice. Such standards or guidelines could be used by both physicians and patients as part of an explicit process to assess the medical appropriateness of expensive or dangerous procedures before they are done. In addition, the competence with which care is delivered also needs to be measured. Both of these assessments should be used prospectively by physicians to help patients choose the referral source that will maximize their preferences.

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