Defining Quality in Health Care

Speaking in the most general of terms, quality can be defined as the degree or grade of excellence or worth. Through our life experiences, many of us feel confident in our ability to recognize a high degree of quality when we see it, such as quality craftsmanship or quality customer service.

To recognize quality of a health care experience, you have to be well-informed. At Sentara, we want you to ask questions so you can make better decisions about your health care. Questions like: What is the experience level of my doctor? Is he/she board certified? How many times has this particular facility performed this procedure? By asking these and other important questions, you and your family will be able to make the best decisions possible about your health care.

As a nationally recognized industry leader with locations across Virginia and North Carolina, Sentara is committed to providing high-quality health care through innovation and the use of the latest technology. Sentara has always been a firm believer in empowering health care consumers so they can make informed decisions and take an active role in their own care.

More Ways to Define Quality

  • Hospital Credentials

    Sentara hospitals are accredited by DNV Healthcare, Inc. DNV accreditation addresses the demands of quality-driven hospitals that are dedicated to patient-centered care. This accreditation is important because it confirms that Sentara is meeting Medicare and Medicaid’s standards to be a provider of healthcare services to those programs and that the National Integrated Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations (NIAHO) standards and the ISO 9001 Quality Management System standards are met. 

    DNV Healthcare, Inc. is a 144-year-old company based in Norway. It has recognized authority from CMS to perform hospital surveys in the United States. DNV promotes ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards as the foundation of the Medical Center’s Quality Management System. These standards ensure it is taking all necessary steps to deliver safe and effective healthcare services to patients. 

    ISO 9001 is recognized by businesses around the world as the benchmark for continual quality improvement. Innovative hospitals have started embracing ISO as a way to identify and focus on the most successful approaches to patient care, billing and other critical aspects of running a modern hospital. 

  • Doctor Credentials

    Board certification, or the international equivalent, means that doctors have completed the amount of training that a specialty board requires. These physicians have practiced for a specified period of time and passed rigorous written and oral exams. Board certification is generally accepted as a strong indicator of a physician’s competence and experience. To learn more about physician credentials, visit the Virginia Board of Medicine website

  • Experience

    When it comes to treating a particular disease, nothing can equal experience. Studies show that physicians and hospitals have better results when they treat a high number of patients for a particular disease and perform large numbers of procedures to treat it.

    A number of independent organizations in the country make it their job to assess and rate quality in health care. To learn how Sentara measures up for experience and quality, visit one of these sites:

  • Reputation, Awards and Recognitions

    Hospitals with a reputation for innovation often attract the most highly skilled professionals and provide the most comprehensive services. When making decisions about health care providers, find out about their track record as pioneers in health care. National awards and recognition within the industry are solid indicators of success. Sentara regularly celebrates significant milestones and accolades within the industry. You can read more about our quality and patient safety awards and recognitions.

  • Services Offered

    Hospitals with a broad range of medical services can treat more complex conditions. These hospitals are better equipped to manage complications, should they occur. Additionally, for diseases where many options for care exist, including prevention, drug therapy, non-surgical intervention and surgery, your physician has more care choices. As a result, you are better assured that the procedure recommended is the best one for you. This access to a full range of care options is important to your health. 

    With 12 hospitals and more than 100 sites of care, Sentara is well equipped to handle treatment of a wide range of injuries, illnesses and diseases. Sentara hospitals specialize in cardiac and vascular surgery, neurosciences, minimally invasive techniques, advanced imaging services, cancer treatment, urology, OB services, transplant services, and numerous other specialties. 

    Sentara also offers a full range of award-winning health coverage plans, home health and hospice services, physical therapy and rehabilitation services.

  • Research and Clinical Trials

    As mentors, experienced physicians and scientists must keep up to date with the latest medical knowledge to be able to train staff. In addition, the health care staff is usually organized around a given disease or type of patient. This team approach to patient care facilitates the sharing of knowledge, research and clinical findings, resulting in the most rapid transfer of basic scientific knowledge from the laboratory to the bedside. In this way, patients benefit from the latest diagnostic and treatment options that often result in improved outcomes. As a Sentara patient, you may be eligible to take part in a clinical trial - a study that evaluates a new drug or treatment. Clinical trials help researchers learn which approaches are most successful in fighting various diseases. A number of standard treatments used today were first shown to be effective in clinical trials. As patients continue to participate in these valuable studies, new and better treatments are discovered.

    At Sentara, conducting clinical trials and staying at the forefront of leading-edge research is critical to developing and maintaining a reputation as a leader in medicine and health care. This is the cornerstone philosophy at Sentara. To that end, we regularly partner with Eastern Virginia Medical School and other colleagues to conduct clinical trials throughout the year and present findings to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and national and international conferences.

  • Clinical Outcomes

    Although it is impossible to eliminate all risks of medical complications or death, especially for seriously ill patients, risks can be reduced by choosing a hospital with a lower mortality rate and/or a higher long-term survival or success rate. Ask the doctor and the hospital for their mortality rates and try to compare rates for patients most like yourself. If a doctor or hospital is reluctant to provide you with that information, look at alternatives.