Evaluating quality and quality measures for comparison

John Øvretveit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


By 2005 all health care organisations in Europe will be required to take part in a quality evaluation scheme and to collect data about the quality of their services. This prediction was made recently at a workshop of Nordic quality experts. The pressures on health care organisations to assess quality are increasing, and there are many assessment, certification, accreditation and measurement schemes in use. Which is best? What evidence is there that any have been effective? How should a hospital or region introduce such a scheme? There are many proponents for different schemes, and an increasing amount of experience to help answer these questions, but little research. This paper gives a simple overview for non-specialists of the different quality evaluation and indicator schemes for inspection and improvement. It draws on the experiences of quality specialists and leaders in each Nordic country who have applied the schemes in public hospitals and health care services. How a scheme is introduced and used may be more important than which particular scheme is chosen. This is one conclusion of the Nordic workshop. Other conclusions are that clinicians must be involved, simplicity and low cost must be balanced with scientific validity and credibility for clinicians and there must be research into the different schemes to discover their costs and benefits to health care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalHealthcare Review Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Audit
  • Evaluation
  • Indicators
  • Measurement
  • Quality


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