In scientific terms, the simplest meaning of quality is, “the degree of adherence of a product or service to the predetermined specification.” It may be termed good or bad, high or low, depending on the context of conformity to the expected criteria.
When we measure the quality of health care, we learn how well our health care system is performing. For consumers, measuring the quality of health care means that they can access that information to make informed decisions about the best doctors and hospitals for their treatment.
quality is described as the comprehensive positive outcome of a product/service. However, in healthcare product is multifaceted which contributes to different perceptions of quality. A precise definition of quality in healthcare acknowledges these differences and includes the care and services delivered and their perceived value to the consumer.
According to Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations (JCAHO), quality is defined as “the degree to which health services for consumers increase the likelihood of the desired health outcomes and are consistent with the current professional knowledge.”
A patient, who is the prime focus in healthcare services, may perceive quality as the best possible treatment that is timely, safe and affordable, can cater to his/her medical requirements. However, the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) defines quality as “the totality of features and characteristics of a service that bear on its ability to satisfy the stated and implied needs of the patients”
In the context of health services the stated needs can be availability, accessibility, appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency and affordability of the services to the community. The implied needs can be the kind of services that is comprehensive enough to address the needs of the customer resulting in customer/patient satisfaction.
The following are some of the definitions of quality given by the quality pioneers
Dr. Joseph M. Juran – “Quality is the fitness for use.”
PhilB. Crosby – “Quality is the conformance to requirements or specifications.”
Armand V. Feigenbaun – “Quality is what the customer says it is.”