4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin C15
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1735
Quality of health care is an important aspect of health care delivery that has continued to receive renewed emphasis as a means to assure and improve patient outcomes and contain cost. Quality related activities encompass a variety of processes that control both the entry of individuals into the practice of health care as well as assessing the ongoing performance of health facilities and practitioners. Increased demand for measurable results by businesses, managed care organizations, and by state and federal regulators has caused hospitals and other health care providers to move beyond traditional quality assurance activities that focus on inputs and processes of care (e.g., licensure, accreditation, provider credentialing, retrospective review, etc.). This has led to the development of continuous quality improvement activities that attempt to measure and improve the outcomes of patient care.
In rural areas, maintaining and improving quality of health care has historically been a difficult proposition. The limited supply of health care providers and high demands on providers for direct patient care restricts the time available for providers to maintain and enhance skills and to carry out quality assurance and improvement activities. In some rural hospitals, the precarious financial situation, lack of trained personnel, and minimal technical resources has also limited quality related activities. However, increased government emphasis on and funding for quality assurance and improvement coupled with improvements in technology are having an impact on the quality of care.
The quality of health services provided in Florida’s rural areas has improved considerably over the past two decades. This is due to a variety of local, state, and federal efforts to enhance the ability of hospitals and other health care providers to acquire and implement the technology and information needed to support best practices. While services provided in rural areas are typically less complex than those provided in larger urban settings, the quality of care provided is equal to or exceeds that provided in urban areas for similar types and levels of services. Based on the latest available data on Medicare hospital patient readmission rates for myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia within 30 days of discharge, Florida’s critical access hospitals have a significantly lower rate of readmissions than other Florida hospitals (Medicare Fee-For-Service Inpatient Claims July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012).
The Florida Office of Rural Health continues to support a variety of efforts to improve the quality of rural health services by promoting the collection and reporting of quality data, and the implementation of best practices, and the provision of clinical and administrative training for health professionals and support staff. These efforts include:
Florida Department of Health
Office of Rural Health
4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin C-15
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1735
PH: (850) 245-4446
FX: (850) 922-6296