Assessing the Quality of Healthcare at the District Level in Rwanda

The Case Study Series presents real applications of Quality Assurance (QA) methodologies in developing countries at various health system levels, from national to community. The series focuses on QA applications in maternal and reproductive health, child survival, and infectious diseases. Each case study focuses on a major QA activity area, such as quality design, quality improvement, communication and development of standards, and quality assessment. In some cases, more than one QA activity is presented. Quality assessment is the measurement of the quality of healthcare services. A quality assessment measures the difference between expected and actual performance to identify opportunities for improvement. Performance standards can be established for most dimensions of quality, such as technical competence, effectiveness, efficiency, safety, and coverage. Where standards are established, a quality assessment measures the level of compliance with standards. For dimensions of quality where standards are more difficult to identify, such as continuity of care or accessibility, a quality assessment describes the current level of performance with the objective of improving it. A quality assessment frequently combines various data collection methods to overcome the intrinsic biases of each method alone. These method include direct observation of patient-provider encounters, staff interview, patient focus group, record review, and facility inspection, among others. The assessment is often the initial step in a larger process, which may include providing feedback to health workers on performance, training and motivating staff to undertake quality improvements, and designing solutions to bridge the quality gap. These case study describes how Rwandan staff from the central, regional and district levels designed and implemented an assessment of the quality of healthcare services at two districts. Ministry of Health staff defined indicators, created and tested assessment tools, assessed 19 health centers, and presented findings. (excerpt)

Report Author(s): 
Lin Y | Franco LM
Quality Assurance Project
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