What is utilization review and why is it important in healthcare?


This is a graded Discussion. Please refer to the Discussion Board Grading Rubric in Course Home / Grading Rubrics.

Respond to all of the following questions and be sure to respond to two of your other classmates’ postings:

1. What are the steps in the quality improvement model and how is benchmarking involved?

2. What are the stages in which data quality errors found in a health record most commonly occur?
3. What is the definition of risk management?
4. What are the parts of an effective risk management program?
5. What is utilization review and why is it important in healthcare?
6. What is the process of utilization review?

Please paper should be 400-500 words and in an essay format, strictly on topic, original with real scholar references to support your answers.



This is the Chapter reading for this assignment:

Read Chapter 7 in Today’s Health Information Management.

INTRODUCTIONQuality health care “means doing the right thing at the right time, in the right way, for the right person, and getting the best possible results.”1 The term quality, by definition, can mean excellence, status, or grade; thus, it can be measured and quantified. The patient, and perhaps the patient’s family, may interpret quality health care differently from the way that health care providers interpret it. Therefore, it is important to determine—if possible—what is “right” and what is “wrong” with regard to quality health care. The study and analysis of health care are important to maintain a level of quality that is satisfactory to all parties involved. As a result of the current focus on patient safety, and in an attempt to reduce deaths and complications, providing the best quality health care while maintaining cost controls has become a challenge to all involved. Current quality initiatives are multifaceted and include government-directed, private sectorsupported, and consumer-driven projects.

This chapter explores the historical development of health care quality including a review of the important pioneers and the tools they developed. Their work has been studied, refined, and widely used in a variety of applications related to performance-improvement activities. Risk management is discussed, with emphasis on the importance of coordination with quality activities. The evolution of utilization management is also reviewed, with a focus on its relationship to quality management.

In addition, this chapter explores current trends in data collection and storage, and their application to improvements in quality care and patient safety. Current events are identified that influence and provide direction to legislative support and funding. This chapter also provides multiple tips and tools for both personal and institutional use.


Data quality refers to the high grade, superiority, or excellence of data. Data quality is intertwined with the concept of quality patient care; it refers to data that can demonstrate and represent in an objective sense the delivery of quality patient care. When the data collected are reflective of the care provided, one can reach conclusions about the quality of care the patient received.

Historical Development

The concept of studying the quality of patient care has been a part of the health care field for almost 100 years. Individual surgeons, such as A. E. Codman, pioneered the practice of monitoring surgical outcomes in patients and documenting physician errors concerning specific patients. These physicians began the practice of conducting morbidity and mortality conferences as a means to improve patient care. Building on the prior work of individual surgeons, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) created the Hospital Standardization Program in 1918. This program served as the genesis for the accreditation movement of the 20th century, which included the concept of quality patient care and the formation of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH) in 1951. The ACS transferred the Hospital Standardization Program to the JCAH in 1953.

Efforts to improve the quality of patient care have varied during the 20th century, beginning with the establishment of formalized mechanisms to measure patient care against established criteria. A timeline illustrating these efforts is shown in Figure 7-1. These mechanisms focused on an organization’s reaction to individual events and the mistakes of individual health care providers. A variety of quality efforts followed, including ones developed in other industries that were adapted to the health care environment. The concepts of total quality management, defined as the organization-wide approach to quality improvement, and continuous quality improvement, defined as the systematic, team-based approach to process and performance improvement, introduced the team-based approach to quality health care. These newer efforts moved the focus from individual events and health care providers to an organization’s systems and their potential for improvement.

Figure 7-1 | Quality management timeline

Accompanying the change in focus were new terms such as quality management, quality assurance, process improvement, and performance improvement. Quality management generally means that every aspect of health care quality may be subject to managerial oversight. Quality assurance refers to those actions taken to establish, protect, promote, and improve the quality of health care. Process improvement refers to the improvement of processes involved in the delivery of health care. Performance improvement refers to the improvement of performance as it relates to patient care. Regardless of the names applied and their respective approaches, most health care organizations in the 21st century are bound by the requirements of various accrediting and regulatory bodies to engage in some function that focuses on the quality of patient care.2

In order to measure patient care for quality purposes, one must first possess data. The data crucial to supporting any quality initiative are the data found in the patient health record. These data must be reliable with respect to quality. Data errors can be made during many stages, such as when data are entered into the record (the documentation process), when data are retrieved from the record (the abstracting process), when data are manipulated (the coding process), when data are processed (the indexing and registry processes), and when data are used (the interpreting process). At each stage, the data must be both consistent and accurate. Furthermore, good quality data are the result of coordinated efforts to ensure integrity at each stage. A recent focus on the legibility of handwritten data, the appropriate use of abbreviations, and their relationship to medication errors has increased pressure from accrediting agencies to improve the quality of data as a means to improve patient safety.

Quality health care management is the result of the dedication of a variety of professionals working in all levels of employment and in all aspects of health care. These professionals are supported by governmental offices at the federal, state, and local levels that define what data they require to be reported to them. When data definitions are not specified by the agency or organization requiring a report, the responsibility to define the data falls to the team or group that is responsible for collecting and disseminating the data. Fundamental to the collection and dissemination of data is the application of the appropriate collection format and reporting tools. However, before data collection can begin, there must be consensus on the perimeters of the data to be collected. The team or group should also select an assessment model, such as quality circles, PDSA, or FOCUS PDCA. Quality circles are small groups of workers who perform similar work that meet regularly to analyze and solve work-related problems and to recommend solutions to management. These groups are also known as Kaizen teams, a Japanese term meaning to generate or implement employee ideas.3 PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act), also known as PDCA (Plan-Do- Check-Act),4 is illustrated in Figure 7-2. FOCUS PDCA5 involves finding a process to improve, organizing a team that knows the process, clarifying the current knowledge of the process, understanding the causes of special variation, and selecting the process improvement. Figure 7-3 illustrates the FOCUS PDCA approach.

Essentially, these assessment models provide groups with guidance about how to organize the process. These models were developed largely as a result of the manufacturing industry quality movement of the 1950s and 1960s led by W. Edwards Deming, J. M. Juran, and Philip Crosby. In the 1960s, these models were applied to the health care sector by Avedis Donabedian, who separated the quality of health care measures into three distinct categories: structure, process, and outcomes.6 In the 1970s, when the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, now known as the Joint Commission, and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), now known as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), began to mandate quality initiatives, health care looked to the successes of the manufacturing industry for direction and ideas.

Figure 7-2 | Plan, do, study (or check), and act assessment model

Figure 7-3 | FOCUS assessment model

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