For me quality of care means a resilient health system that is able to deliver services when they are needed to the best of standards possible.
In my opinion a measure of quality involves looking at multiple parameters but ultimately considers the experience of the patient. Having a patient centred approach to healthcare can allow us to strive to provide the best care we can to the best of our ability at the right time in the best environment.
Quality improvement initiatives should look at the whole continuum of care and be able to introduce the best standards at all stages of care.
Often quality assessment tools we have developed and used just consider the perspective of the service provider from a technical perspective. Yet in my opinion, the customer (patient) experience and patient outcome provide the ultimate measures of whether quality is central in our health delivery system or not.
In low resource settings, we have made a lot of compromise in quality and patients have come to expect poor quality service at public health facilities. The excuse is we do not have enough resources. But quality is not about how much we have but how best we utilise what we have to provide the best service possible. Quality improvement, first and foremost will require a change of mindset, a paradigm shift from the frontliner providing a service in all areas that make up a health system.
HIFA profile: Venus Mushininga is a pharmacist with the Ministry of Health and Childcare in Zimbabwe. She is a founder and President of the Zimbabwe Society of Oncology Pharmacy and the Zimbabewan delegate to the European Society of Oncology Pharmacy. Professional interests: Oncology, Dissemination of information through to Health Professionals and the public, Research. She is co-coordinator of the HIFA working group on information for Prescribers and Users of Medicines.
Email: vmushininga AT gmail.com