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Low quality healthcare increases health costs – OECD

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Poor quality health services are holding back progress on improving health in countries at all income levels, according to Delivering Quality Health Services – a Global Imperative for Universal Health Coverage, a joint report published in July 2018 by the OECD, World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank.

Factors that hinder progress include inaccurate diagnoses, medication errors, inappropriate or unnecessary treatments, inadequate or unsafe clinical facilities or practices, or providers who lack adequate training and expertise.

The situation is worse in low and middle-income countries where 10% of hospitalized patients can expect to acquire an infection during their stays, as compared to seven percent in countries with higher incomes, even though hospital-acquired infections are easily avoided through better hygiene and proper use of antimicrobials. At the same time, one in ten patients is harmed during medical treatment in high-income countries.

There has been some progress in improving quality, such as in survival rates for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Even so, the broader economic and social costs of poor quality care, including long-term disability, impairment and lost productivity, are estimated to amount to trillions of dollars each year.

The report outlines urgent steps governments, health services and their workers, citizens, and patients need to take to improve health care quality:

  • Governments should lead the way with strong national healthcare quality policies and strategies
  • Health systems should focus on competent care and user experience to ensure confidence
  • Healthcare workers should see patients as partners and commit themselves to providing and using data to prove the effectiveness and safety of health care
  • Citizens should be empowered and informed to actively engage in healthcare decisions and in designing new models of care to meet the needs of their local communities.

The full report is available at http://www.oecd.org/health/delivering-quality-health-services-a-global-imperative-9789264300309-en.htm

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