Healthcare performance measurements are aggregated, quantified and analyzed data on a particular healthcare-related activity. Their purpose is to identify opportunities for reducing costs, improving quality of care and increasing efficiency of care delivery. They’re also used to monitor other initiatives that an institution wants to track — or needs to track — to satisfy regulatory requirements.
These measurement initiatives are typically developed and operated with the active involvement of the physicians and hospital staff whose performance is being measured — as well as government and other third-party agencies — to ensure that the measures are meaningful, and the data are accurate.
Types of healthcare performance measurements include:
Level of safety and adherence to governmentally-mandated standards
There are many reasons why healthcare performance measurements are important to healthcare institutions and society in general:
Good health is more important to people than most other goods or services 1. Society has a strong collective interest in assuring that the healthcare system works to ensure people lead healthy lives as much as possible.
Governments and individuals spend a lot on healthcare. Not only do people collectively and individually spend significant dollars on healthcare (and/or healthcare insurance), these costs have risen quickly over time compared to other economy sectors.
People want to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Objective performance measures help people make better healthcare decisions because they can compare “apples to apples” and seek the best care.
Governmental bodies can make better healthcare polices. Performance measurements provide solid background data for legislative policy discussions about healthcare programs and investments — indicating where improvements in laws and mandates can be made.
Performance measurements provide one of the best ways to spearhead overall health system and hospital improvements by providing solid data on the current state of efficiencies and effectiveness, including:
In 2009, the US government created a USD 27 billion incentive program to encourage healthcare providers to adopt EHRs. One of the reasons for the changeover was to give hospitals reliable data for healthcare performance measurements — ultimately increasing efficiency and quality of patient care.
Though EHR acceptance has continued, led by an upsurge in the adoption of cloud-based EHR software, the results have been mixed. According to a Stanford/Harris Poll study 2, 40 percent of primary care physicians believe that there are more EHR challenges than benefits.
In response, software providers have developed advanced healthcare software platforms, which can streamline the EHR process and provide tools to more easily track patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. Using the tools, healthcare institutions can access patient care data that is easy to analyze and act on.
Prioritizing healthcare performance measurements – which are more important?
There are hundreds of healthcare performance measures that a healthcare institution can track. How does an institution decide which measures are the most important?
Alanna Moriarty from Definitive Healthcare points out in her blog 3 that the CMS continues to add and modify quality programs, making it difficult for institutions to prioritize metrics. She suggests ten essential healthcare performance measures:
IBM, through its Watson Health solutions, has been a leader in providing solutions for clinical quality measures and quality reporting for core measures. It has a track record of accurate, on-time submissions — making it a leader for the CMS Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program (HIQRP) or for accreditation from The Joint Commission (TJC).
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1 Principles of health economics. David Parkin (2009), revised (2017). (link resides outside of ibm.com)
2 Doctors Call for Overhaul of Electronic Health Records. Stanford Medicine. June 4, 2018. (link resides outside of ibm.com)
3 Top 10 Hospital Performance Metrics You Need to Know. Alanna Moriarty. May 8, 2018. (link resides outside of ibm.com)