There’s lots of talk these days about “quality care.” And, yes, we all have a general idea of what that term means. But in an area of treatment as variable and intensely personal as oncology, how can we truly define what quality treatment is?
Lidia Schapira, MD, FASCO, Editor-in-Chief of Cancer.net and Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University recently penned a piece tackling that exact question. In the piece, Dr. Schapira recounts her experience caring for a teenager with leukemia, and how her mother’s definition of quality care was quite simple:
As a mother myself, I imagined her mom was feeling intolerable levels of anguish and stress. So I asked if she would like to have a cup of tea and talk. She looked me straight in the eye, thanked me, and reassured me that she would be fine if and when her daughter was cured … For this mother, quality meant knowing that everybody was doing their best to help her child.
Initially, quality care was predominantly quantified by outcomes. Over the years, it has grown to include more of the human side of health care, including coordination, communication and palliative care. While it is tough to quantify such a concept, Dr. Schapira believes that understanding how to address the issue is crucial to providing the best care possible:
‘Quality’ means that we need to prepare and train to work in collaborative teams — and this includes sharing information and data in real time — to standardize practices and be quick to change in response to the needs of our community of patients.