In an effort to improve accountability and standardize the quality of healthcare in Qatar, the Supreme Council of Health has announced a new reporting framework for providers that takes effect next month.
All hospitals and primary healthcare centers will be required to adhere to the Health Service Performance Agreement (HSPA) from April 1, 2014.
Under the HPSA, healthcare providers will report regularly to the SCH on several performance indicators.
During a one-year grace period until the end of March 2015, providers’ data will not be made public, nor will they be sanctioned for their findings, Gulf Times reports.
In statement, Dr. Mohamed al-Thani, director of the SCH’s Public Health Department, said the new requirements would increase transparency in the health system and enhance services for residents.
Quality improvement is the one of the main goals listed in the National Health Strategy, a five-year plan to upgrade Qatar’s healthcare system by 2016.
According to the NHS, there is currently no national link between Qatar’s hospitals and clinics. This lack of integration leads to an uneven quality of care and makes it hard to keep records or assess healthcare providers by one standard of metrics.
The strategy cites how easily patients get lost in the referral system as one example:
Primary care provides referrals to secondary services but often without a standard referral letter and with limited flow of information back to the primary care system. Especially of concern is the fact that secondary services do not furnish a standard set of clinical information to primary care after a patient episode, thereby jeopardizing the continuity-of-care process.
Although there has been progress in standardizing discharge summaries reaching primary care for follow-up, there is still considerable room for improvement.
Problems with the referral system were demonstrated after last month’s deadly restaurant blast, when some injured patients were told to go to their primary healthcare centers and then passed around to several other providers, affecting the quality of their treatment.
Bill of rights
Additionally, the Peninsula reports SCH officials as saying a patients’ bill of rights is also in the works. That document, which would be available in English and Arabic “soon” would explain how patients can submit and follow up with their complaints about care.
The newspaper states:
The bill will specify whether a patient has the right to refuse treatment, seek a second opinion, and ask what treatment they are getting, among other issues, (Dr. Jamal Rashid Al Khanji, Director of the Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety Department) explained.
“The document is ready and will be officially launched very soon. Its basic purpose is to educate patients on their rights and responsibilities,” he added. “It will be made available in different languages, including English and Arabic, at all clinics, hospitals and other places for public reference.”