Quality Standards

Quality Standards

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Quality standards are tools for helping our health care systems deliver consistent, high-quality care to support the health of patients and the population. They describe key aspects of high-quality services for a condition or topic to guide opportunities for improvement. Quality standards feature concise future-focused statements and indicators to measure progress, that serve as common goals to which our health care system can aspire.  They are evidence-based and progress toward them will lead to better health outcomes.

Quality standards support:

  • People to understand the care offered by their health care system, and to make informed decisions in partnership with their health care teams;
  • Health care professionals to make decisions about appropriate care; and
  • Health care organizations to examine their systems and policies and improve the care they provide.

Quality Statements

Quality statements describe priority areas for improvement within the BC health system. Unwarranted variation occurs when the care someone receives is not what is expected and is not the result of their individual circumstances or choices. Quality statements aim to reduce areas of unwarranted variation by focusing improvement efforts where it is needed the most and outline the care that should be offered to people.

Quality Indicators

Quality statements require monitoring using associated quality indicators in order to track if care is meeting the standard or being improved. Quality indicators are intended to measure the progress towards meeting each quality statement.


The New Stroke Quality Standard

The new Stroke Quality Standard for BC’s health care system that features nine quality statements focusing on specific areas of the patient journey where improvement can lead to better health outcomes. They’re accompanied by indicators to measure progress and guide improvement work.

In addition, the Patient, Caregiver and Family Guide describes key aspects of high-quality stroke care and supports people with stroke, as well as family members or caregivers, to make informed decisions in partnership with their health care teams.

Download the Stroke Quality Standard

Frequently Asked Questions

Quality standards are tools for helping our health care systems deliver consistent, high-quality care to support the health of patients and the population. They describe key aspects of high-quality services for a condition or topic to guide opportunities for improvement that can lead to better health outcomes.

Quality standards feature concise future-focused statements, and indicators to measure progress, that serve as common goals for our health care system can aspire. They support:

  • People with stroke to understand key aspects of high-quality stroke care, and to make informed decisions in partnership with their health care teams;
  • Health care professionals to make decisions about appropriate care; and
  • Health care organizations to examine their systems and policies, and improve the services they provide.

In BC we know that variation in care occurs every day. Often these variations occur because of a person’s particular illness or choices. These are expected and often necessary to individualize patient care. However, there are also variations in care that are unwarranted and can only be explained by differences in health system performance and should be reduced whenever possible and appropriate.

Quality standards aim to improve the quality of care in BC by decreasing unwarranted variation in the health system. This is achieved by focusing quality improvement efforts where they are needed most and tracking the progress towards these goals. Approaching improvement this way means that action can take place to increase the quality of care across the province.

We bring together an expert group to guide the development of the standard and its Patient, Caregiver and Family Guide.  This standard development committee includes people with lived experience, clinical experts, health system leaders, and researchers. Drafts of both documents are then open for public review and the final versions reflect feedback received through submissions and an online survey. They are then approved by the standard development committee and endorsed by key partners.

Quality standards are unique because they are:

  • Focused – key areas of the patient journey are selected where the need for improving quality is the greatest;
  • Concise – less than ten statements compared to sometimes hundreds of statements in a best practice guideline or decision support tool;
  • Measurable – all quality statements have associated quality indicators that can be used to track progress towards the statement; and
  • System level – quality statements are written from a system-level perspective while best practice guidelines focus on specific procedures or treatments

Clinical practice guidelines aim to guide aspects of the direct care, assessment or treatment for a patient with a condition, whereas quality standards aim to guide priority areas for the health care system, across the patient journey, to focus on opportunities to improve.

While guidelines tend to focus on individual clinical practice, quality standards identify service- and system-level improvement areas to guide the health care system’s efforts.

Quality standards provide guidance on the priority areas for improvement in BC in a specific area of the health system. They are developed in BC for our provincial health system and therefore provide specific guidance for where improvement is needed most.

Standards used to accredit hospitals, such as those from Health Standards Organization (HSO), focus on governance, leadership, and seek to define all of the elements needed to be accredited. These standards are developed to be used across Canada.

Quality standards are aligned with accreditation standards to ensure consistency. However, quality standards in BC are focused on areas where there is known unwarranted variation and seek to define an aspirational set of goals for our province to work toward.

Quality standards also aim to promote cultural safety and equity within the health care system. Some statements will directly address cultural safety or equity concerns, while others will highlight cultural safety and equity considerations when implementing a statement into practice.

Equity is embedded within the definition of health care quality as one of seven core dimensions in the BC Health Quality Matrix. The Standard Development Committee considers all the dimensions of quality when creating a quality standard and could not have thoroughly addressed quality without considering equity and cultural safety. One way to address unwarranted variation is by ensuring people can engage in a health care system that is respectful and free of racism and discrimination.

It is important to continue the process of cultural humility when applying the information in this document.

Quality standards are a key element in the Provincial Health Services Authority’s (PHSA) clinical policy framework that aims to improve the quality and consistency of care for identified topics or conditions. We were asked to lead the development of quality standards because of our unique role as an organization outside of the care delivery system, our expertise in health care quality, and our ability to coordinate action across the health care system.

PHSA will partner with health authorities to implement the quality standards. They will be used to prioritize and guide improvement work and will help PHSA monitor progress using the indicators in the quality standard.

Together with PHSA, we will review each quality standard every three years to determine its effectiveness and relevance.

Quality standards help patients, families, and caregivers understand the care available from the health system and support informed decision-making in collaboration with their health care team. They highlight how patients, caregivers, and families can guide prevention, treatment, and recovery in ways that are most meaningful to them, while still upholding best practice recommendations.

If you have any further questions, please reach out to us at qualitystandards@bcpsqc.ca.


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Key Contact

Sybil Hoiss
Leader, Strategic Initiatives
shoiss@bcpsqc.ca
778.363.9165