Improving patient care is a priority for all healthcare providers, with the overall objective of achieving a high degree of patient satisfaction. Numerous studies have also demonstrated that the quality of patient care is a serious concern. As such, healthcare providers need to be aware of these five key aspects in quality care to focus on, in order to provide optimal care for patients.

Involvement in decisions

Getting patients to be actively involved in decisions is a sign of respect for them, and is considered one of the most important aspects of quality care. When they are encouraged to be involved in decision making, it in turn fosters the engagement process of patients in their healthcare treatment.

Over time, this gives patients the confidence to manage their own condition, and increases the likelihood of them adhering to the healthcare provider’s chosen course of treatment. They are also more likely to monitor and prevent their condition from relapsing.

Clear, comprehensible information and support for self-care

During clinical consultations, patients may fail to remember important things or misinterpret what was told to them, as they are not professionals in this regard. As such. for most patients their first and most trusted source of information is their doctor, although many also seek out supplementary information from a variety of sources, and it has become more or less imperative that doctors be a source of information for these patients in all healthcare matters if they want to retain them. It is no easy task too, as patients are becoming more active in seeking medical information from various sources, not just their doctors, before making major decisions of any sort.

Emotional support and empathy

The care itself is one thing, but the way it is delivered is also vital in making the experience a satisfying one. If the healthcare professional is able to satisfy the emotional needs of their patients and demonstrate an understanding of their situation, patients will certainly have a more positive experience, which has major impact on the care quality.

Improvement in this area can lead to speedier recoveries and increase overall patient satisfaction, and researchers have revealed that emotional support is one of the main determinants influencing level of satisfaction during a hospital stay.

Accessible and reliable

Quality care also needs to be timely, accessible and reliable. This is especially true in primary care, where patients are constantly on the lookout for better practitioners, more complementary therapies, and longer clinic opening hours. In order to truly improve the accessibility of healthcare, staff skills and competencies are also important aspects to observe, as having a clinic that is physically accessible yet only provides mediocre care is equivalent to not having provided quality care at all.

Effective treatment

The treatment and care received by patients must be effective, timely and equitable for it to be considered of quality. Although healthcare outcomes can rarely be guaranteed, it is important to minimise controllable harmful factors as much as possible, e.g. avoiding harmful delays and long waiting times, as a long delay in treatment could affect its effectiveness; or a variance in care quality due to characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status. If a patient feels put upon or less cared for due to any of the above, the care they receive will definitely not be able to be considered of high quality. MIMS

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Kinnersley, P., Anderson, E., Parry, K., Clement, J., Archard, L., & Turton, P. (2000). Randomised controlled trial of nurse practitioner versus general practitioner care for patients requesting “same day” consultations in primary care. BMJ, 320: 1043-8
Gesell, S.B. & Wolosin, R.J. (2004). “Inpatient Ratings of Care in 5 Common Clinical Conditions.” Quality Management in Health Care 13(4): 222–27.
Jenkinson, C., A., Coulter, S., & Bruster, et al. (2002). “Patient’s Experiences and Satisfaction with Health Care: Results of a Questionnaire Study of Specific Aspects of Care.” Quality and Safety in Health Care 11: 335–39.