What is quality and why should it matter to you?

David Grossman, MD, MPH Executive Medical Director, Population and Purchaser StrategyBy David Grossman, MD, MPH; Senior Associate Medical Director, Market Strategy and Public Policy, Washington Permanente Medical Group; Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

How do you determine what health care quality is? The term is so freely used and easily claimed by so many in the health care space that it can be difficult to put your finger on what true quality means.

In general, quality refers to a degree of excellence. But that can be pretty subjective without an agreed upon set of standards. Fortunately, in health care, a set of such quantifiable, measureable standards exist. To claim high quality, an organization must achieve the best possible outcomes for care delivery, patient care, safety, and the patient experience. These outcomes are measured by respected, third-party organizations.

Who measures quality?

There are various organizations that measure health care and health plan quality. Among them is the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for measurements of health care quality. A respected health plan ranking is eValue8, sponsored by a national alliance of health plan purchasers. Here in our state, the Washington Health Alliance (WHA) conducts the Community Checkup, which highlights the health care quality and value of medical groups.

Why you should pay attention to quality measures

There are many reasons you should pay attention to health care quality scores. Here are three:

  1. Your company is looking for the best quality coverage at the best price — that’s the best value.
  2. You want and need a healthy, productive workforce. Better care means faster recovery and better management of chronic conditions.
  3. Your employees want to live their healthiest lives and want to know there’s no better place to go for care than where you’re recommending.

How do we measure up?

  • Effectiveness of care: Kaiser Permanente Washington and Kaiser Permanente Northwest plans have the highest-rating in our state on NCQA Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) effectiveness of care measures.1 HEDIS is one of the most respected quality scores in health care.
  • Highest-ranked medical group: In the 2017 Washington Health Alliance Community Checkup our medial group was the highest-ranked in the state – for the 11th year in a row.2
  • Top-performing health plan: Our commercial HMO was named the top-performing health plan — in the country.3

Quality care means healthier employees

You’re in a key position to help your employees avoid care that isn’t highly rated or ranked. Where you recommend your workforce go for their health care affects the local and national health care landscape.

Employees that get care from quality organizations are likely to stay healthier in the first place. Your workers will also have better outcomes when they need care. There’s also a ripple effect of lower health care costs, fewer health complications, greater patient satisfaction, a healthier workforce, a healthier community, and more.

We make your job easier

Every day we strive to be a great health care partner for your company. We also never cease to improve outcomes in the pursuit of better quality for our members. If you seek to capture and understand the true value of quality health care, you’ll see the clear value of our organization’s care delivery model. And how our way of caring for people can change lives, impact the economy, and make a measurable difference.

So the next time an organization claims to offer quality health care, we hope you’ll ask, “How, exactly?” When you ask us, we’ll be happy to meet with you and explain just how we do it.

Check out our other recent awards and notable recognition.


  1. 2017 NCQA Quality Compass.
  2. Washington Health Alliance, 2017 Community Checkup www.wacommunitycheckup.org; Ranking applies to Kaiser Permanente Washington’s medical group, Washington Permanente Medical Group, P.C. (formerly Group Health Cooperative’s medical group, Group Health Permanente, P.C.)
  3. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington’s (formerly named Group Health Cooperative) commercial HMO rated the top health plan in the United States in the 2016 eValue8™ survey. Managed by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (formerly the National Business Coalition on Health), eValue8™ is an evidence-based resource created by business coalitions and employers like Marriott and General Motors to measure and evaluate health plan cost, quality, and performance.
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All plans offered and underwritten by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington or Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc.