What is quality health care?
Quality health care is the kind of care you want for you and your family. It helps people stay well, get better when they’re sick, or manage ongoing illnesses. It is:
- Getting care that works and that’s safe.
- Being able to talk to your doctor and ask questions.
- Receiving the treatment YOU need for your health condition.
- Getting the proper medications, and understanding why you’re
- Receiving the care you need at a time that it will do the most good.
- Being an engaged patient.
Who should improve quality care?
YOU, doctors, nurses, community organizations, insurance companies, and employers. Everyone who gets care, gives care or pays for care must work together to improve the quality of care.
It’s up to you to be involved in your health, but it’s also up to those around you. Your doctors and nurses need to provide the right services to you. By providing the right services to patients, health care providers are:
- Following the nationally accepted course of action to care for your particular condition; Not giving too many or not enough tests or screenings;
- Removing the chance to misuse medications; and
- Checking with you to make sure you understand what you're being told.
Employers need to educate staff on the impact their health has on a business, and how health care benefits can be best used to improve their health. As they are often the payers of health insurance premiums, employers must do their part to control costs. Insurers need to work towards improving health costs.
A great way to start getting everyone involved is by requesting an “It’s Your Health…TAKE CHARGE!” presentation. Read this article to learn more.
What kind of care should I expect?
You should expect high quality health care. Everyone, regardless of gender, race, income level, education level, or social status should receive equal care. To make sure you’re getting the right care, review our tips on understanding what to expect and how to get it.
How do you find the right doctor if you’re not getting what you expect? Try using our tips provided in the resource section below. Also, visit our Community Checkup to see the types of tests you should be receiving, and how well doctors and patients are partnering to improve care.
What is an “engaged patient?”
By being an engaged patient, you are involved in your health and act as an advocate for your body. Follow these steps to be an engaged patient.
- Do your part to stay healthy. Stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and do your best to eat the right foods. If you need support in this area, join the free I Can! Challenge.
- Research the quality of care that doctors and hospitals provide using our Community Checkup. Learn whether practices and patients have good control of health indicators, such as blood pressure, LDL cholesterol levels, and other results relating to diabetes and heart disease.
- Seek care as soon as you need it. Delays in getting care can make health problems more serious, more costly and harder to treat.
- Ask questions. You need to understand the information you are given. Prepare for your next visit by taking questions to the doctor’s office. Use this checklist to help you get started.
- Make sure you understand. Did the doctor say a word you didn’t understand? It’s okay. Ask the doctor or health care provider to explain it in plain language, or ask for written instructions. It’s also helpful to repeat back to the doctor what they said, but in your own words.
- Be involved with decisions that affect your health. If your doctor recommends tests or treatment, ask for the information you need to make an informed decision.
- Request an “It’s Your Health…TAKE CHARGE!” presentation. Ask your workplace, support group, senior center – any location filled with people to hold a presentation. It’s a 90 minute interactive presentation, allowing attendees to learn among many other things: how to assess high-quality care; how to communicate with doctors; how to best make use of your time with the doctor; and, the tools and skills to use in these different situations. The materials given to the attendees are available in Spanish also. Read this article to learn more.
- Use your resources. We have lots of tip sheets to help you get good quality care, and recommendations on how to stay healthy. Download our resources below!
What else can I do?
By being an engaged patient, you can also be a voice for your community. Become an advocate for quality care!
Give Us Your Input
Want to shadow a doctor’s office, and provide advice on ways to engage more with patients? Become part of our Patient Partners Program, which is through our Planned Care Collaborative initiative. Patients have the chance to work inside a doctor’s office with a team of business coaches and doctors. You’ll be the voice for patients and share your ideas on how doctors’ offices can improve their care for patients.
Train Your Community
Help others be advocates about their health! Our health literacy task forces are teaching patients like you what it means to be an engaged patient through our “It’s Your Health…Take Charge!” trainings. This train-the-trainer approach teaches you to take your knowledge into the community and train others to become empowered. To learn more, contact Robin Rohrbaugh at of Healthy York County Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 851-2333.
Join Our Consumer Advisory Council
Each month AF4Q – South Central PA leaders meet with patients and a team of representatives from York and Adams counties’ community organizations. As a group, we identify the best ways to reach out to patients and which tools will be the most useful. We determine how we can continue to deliver information and educate the community about quality care. We invite you to share your thoughts, and become a supporter by joining our Consumer Advisory Council!
What resources are available?
We have the tools to help you be an engaged patient. From tips on what to take to your doctor’s visit, to how to find out whether you’re getting the proper tests, we’re here to help. Be sure to check back for more tips and downloadable forms.
For Your Next Doctor’s Visit
For Understanding Quality Care
- How to know health care quality when you see it
- Resources to find and compare health care professionals
For Concerns about Quality in Pennsylvania
Provided by Informed Patient Institute
- Concerns about quality in a Pennsylvania hospital
- Concerns about quality in a Pennsylvania nursing home
- Concerns about quality of care from a Pennsylvania doctor
Healthy Living Tips
- How to take medications safely
- Places to help stay on track with healthy eating
- Places to go & things to do for physical activity
- Health programs & support groups
- Heart Failure Zone Tool
- Las puntas para Evitar Fallo del corazón
- Blood Sugar Zone Tool
- Controle Sus Azúcares de Sangre
Tell us your health story!
Tell us the questions you asked your doctor, or what you’re doing to help improve quality care. We want to hear from you! Show others that change can happen, and help our community come together to improve quality care. Come on, share your story!