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Lancet. 2003 Oct 25;362(9393):1404-8.

Doctor performance and public accountability.

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Center for Primary Care, Prevention and Clinical Partnerships, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.


Public concern about the quality of health care has motivated governments, health-care funders, and clinicians to expand efforts to improve professional performance. In this paper, we illustrate such efforts from the perspective of three countries, the UK, the USA, and the Netherlands. The earliest strategies, which included continuing professional education, clinical audits, and peer review, were aimed at the individual doctor, and produced only modest effects. Other efforts, such as national implementation of practice guidelines, effective use of information technologies, and intensive involvement by doctors in continuous quality-improvement activities, are aimed more broadly at health-care systems. Much is yet unknown about whether these or other strategies--such as centralised supervision or regulation of quality improvement, or use of financial incentives--are effective. As demands for greater public accountability rise, continuing performance improvement efforts of each of our countries offer us opportunities to learn from one another.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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