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I N T E RV I E W
When 100 Percent Reliability Is Required
Nothing Is Taken for Granted
“ The goal over the last 15 years has been to better define
quality by actual measures, to collect the data from hospitals
and to report it publicly.”
It should go without saying that we all want
the highest-quality healthcare. But what does
that mean? UCLA Health has made quality
and safety the top priority, and has joined
with leading hospitals, physician groups,
employers, health-insurance associations
and others to focus on monitoring and
improving healthcare quality and efficiency
through national evidence-based measures
of evaluating, standardizing and comparing
the performance of hospitals, physicians
and other providers. Thomas Rosenthal,
UCLAHEALTH.ORG 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631)
MD, chief medical officer for UCLA Health,
discusses the quality movement and how
UCLA has responded.
How do you define quality?
Well that’s the $64,000 question. If you go
back 20 years, quality simply meant all of
us doing our best. The presumption was
that if you trained people well, put them in
good environments, made sure they were
professional and highly motivated, and
got good results, that was quality. But a
pair of influential reports by the Institute
of Medicine, released beginning in 1999,
concluded that that was not enough — that
if you didn’t approach hospital care in a
more systematic way, you could cause
preventable harm and death to patients.
That was the basis for the beginning of the
What has characterized that movement?
The goal over the last 15 years has been to
better define quality by actual measures, to
collect the data from hospitals and to report
it publicly. The idea is not only to measure
quality, but also to use those measurements
to improve performance.
What are some of the key areas that are
measured, and what is UCLA doing to improve
its own performance?
There is a great deal of underreporting