Ethics, Policy, and Finance in Health Care System
At first glance, the relationship between health care cost and quality is direct and indisputable: the more money is invested in the industry, the better the patient outcomes (Hussey et al., 2013). However, a closer look into U.S. health care context allows suggesting that the association between health care cost and quality requires a more detailed study.
The USA is the absolute champion among economically developed countries in the amount of money spent on health care; the per capita spending on health care is 50 to 200 per cent greater in the United States that in any other industrial country (Burke & Ryan, 2014). At the same time, the country ranks only 26th in the world for life expectancy (Davis et al., 2010). Fischer et al (2003) further suggest that other indicators of quality health care are lower in the USA when compared to other industrialized countries. While recognizing the existing gap, health care agencies adopt strategies to bridge them. The major strategies are considered in the context of the public Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the private Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies.
Centers for Disease Control and PreventionScott (2009), an economist at CDC presented a report The Direct Medical Costs of Healthcare-Associated Infections in U.S. Hospitals and the Benefits of Prevention. While relying on the data retrieved from medical and economic studies, Scott (2009) suggests that healthcare-associated infections (HAI) in hospitals are the major economic burden for U.S. health care industry.
According to the expert, the overall annual direct medical costs of HAI to national hospitals ranges from $28.4 to $33.8 billion, while the introduction of a series of infection control interventions can reduce this costs to $5.8 to $6.8 billion (Scott, 2009, p. I). The findings presented by Scott (2009) allow making several important conclusions regarding the establishment of the cost-quality balance in the public health care.
Firstly, today public health care facilities face with the problem of wasteful spending (Burke & Ryan, 2014), which decreases the quality of health care services and undermines the credibility of the system. Secondly, in most cases wasteful spending is effectively addressed through a series of preventive measures. While focusing on preventive treatment, public health care agencies seek to strike a balance between quality and costs. In order to ensure the effectiveness of the public health care initiatives, the industry should focus on their careful documentation, as often the reports similar to that of Scott (2009) are unexpected.
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
The IOM seeks to establish a balance between health care quality and search through ongoing research. The logic of this approach is understandable.
Nursing research generates new knowledge which in turn boosts the quality of health care services (Conner, 2014). Recently, the IOM has released the report Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress. …