Measuring Quality of Care

Part 2: Measuring Quality of care

by Robert H. Brook, Elizabeth A. McGlynn, Paul Cleary

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback5 pages Free

Until recently, we relied primarily on professional judgment to ensure that patients received high-quality medical care. Hospitals routinely monitored poor outcomes, such as deaths or infections, to identify ways to improve the quality of care. In rare cases, medical societies reviewed the performance of physicians. However, monitoring of and improvement in quality were generally left to individual clinicians.

This situation has changed dramatically. We have learned that practice patterns and the quality of medical care vary much more than many people had realized, our ability to measure the quality of care has advanced considerably, and clinicians are increasingly interested in having objective information about their practices. Furthermore, patients and purchasers want to know more about the quality of care available to them.

Originally published in: New England Journal of Medicine, v. 335, no. 13, September 26, 1996, pp. 966-970.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.