Patient-Derived Framework for Quality in Hand Surgery: A Qualitative Analysis

Published:August 11, 2022DOI:


      Despite the growing attention to evaluating care from the patient perspective, the most common definitions and measurements of quality are currently defined by physicians and health systems. Studies have demonstrated how a lack of patient input can lead to discrepancies between patients’ and physicians’ assessments of quality and, subsequently, worse patient outcomes. Although quality measures are increasingly used in hand surgery, insufficient work has examined whether these quality measures align with what matters to patients. We completed a qualitative study to assess how patients define high-quality care through the pre-, peri-, and postoperative phases of care in hand surgery.


      Based on our prior work, we created an open-ended interview guide and conducted semistructured interviews with 43 hand surgery patients at 5 tertiary-care institutions during various phases of care. We completed a thematic analysis to generate subcodes and open codes, to identify themes in high-quality care from the patient perspective.


      Patients defined high-quality care as a process of (1) setting and meeting clear expectations; (2) achieving functional goals after surgery; and (3) feeling comfortable with and cared for by the care team. We identified the following 4 patient-centered themes that contributed to high-quality care: (1) communication between the patient and care team through all phases of care; (2) efficient and accurate diagnosis and treatment; (3) satisfactory treatment outcomes and postsurgical experience; and (4) acceptable systemic aspects of care.


      Efforts to improve health care delivery should include areas of care that are important to patients. Our results suggest that measuring aspects of care that often go without assessments, such as communication, can maximize care quality as defined by patients.

      Clinical relevance

      The themes identified in this study can inform efforts towards patient-centered quality measure development.

      Key words

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