Quality and safety in medical care: what does the future hold?

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 Nov;135(11):1425-31. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2011-0154-OA.


Context: The rapid changes in health care policy, embracing quality and safety mandates, have culminated in programs and initiatives under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Objective: To review the context of, and anticipated quality and patient safety mandates for, delivery systems, incentives under health care reform, and models for future accountability for outcomes of care.

Design: Assessment of the provisions of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, other reform efforts, and reform initiatives focusing on future quality and safety provisions for health care providers.

Results: Health care reform and other efforts focus on consumerism in the context of price. Quality and safety efforts will be structured using financial incentives, best-practices research, and new delivery models that focus on reaching benchmarks while reducing costs. In addition, patient experience will be a key component of reimbursement, and a move toward "retail" approaches directed at the individual patient may supplant traditional "wholesale" efforts at attracting employers.

Conclusions: Quality and safety have always been of prime importance in medicine. However, in the future, under health care reform and associated initiatives, a shift in the paradigm of medicine will integrate quality and safety measurement with financial incentives and a new emphasis on consumerism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / trends*
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Patient Safety*
  • Quality of Health Care / trends*
  • United States