Top 3 Outcome Measures In Healthcare (& How To Track Them)

Top 3 Outcome Measures In Healthcare (& How To Track Them)

Hospitals have some of the most rigorous compliance requirements of any industry, involving very complex patient care and business processes; lives are often on the line. Identifying the right information to track, tracking that information accurately, and analyzing the results in real or near-real time is key to improving the quality and effectiveness of your services.

Selecting a balanced set of metrics from the variety of options is crucial for measuring quality. Metrics related to clinical outcomes—the change in a person’s health as the result of intervention or treatment—are of course an important part of the mix. By identifying and tracking clinical outcomes, a hospital can better understand its current quality of care and work to implement changes where needed.

But having a policy in place to track outcome measures isn’t a guarantee that the job gets done well. Having worked with a number of healthcare facilities, we understand how frustrating the data-gathering and reporting processes can be. For many hospitals, these activities pose obstacles to effective tracking, and can make it difficult to gain meaningful insights that would actually lead to change.

We’re not healthcare experts, but we are healthcare data tracking experts! To help you move forward confidently with your planning and tracking efforts, take a look below at the top three outcome measures in healthcare institutions and how you can use ClearPoint to easily stay on top of them.

Top 3 Outcome Measures In Healthcare

Choosing the appropriate healthcare outcome measures depends on the facility itself (its services and specialties, for example). But according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), there are three broad categories of clinical outcomes that play heavily into the quality rating of a hospital: mortality,safety of care, and readmissions. Below, we break out each of these into specific measures.

1. Mortality

Mortality is usually tracked in relation to cause of death, so outcome measures in this category might include death rates for:

  • Heart attack patients
  • Heart failure patients
  • Pneumonia patients
  • Stroke patients
  • Coronary artery bypass graft surgery patients
  • Patients with serious treatable complications after surgery
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients

2. Safety Of Care

Safety of care refers to preventing and reducing risks while administering health care, and eliminating errors made by care providers and staff members.

CMS lists eight measures in this category:

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI)
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI)
  • Surgical site infections from colon surgery (SSI: Colon)
  • Surgical site infections from abdominal hysterectomy (SSI: Hysterectomy)
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Blood Laboratory-identified Events (Bloodstream infections)
  • Clostridium difficile (C.diff.) Laboratory-identified Events (Intestinal infections)
  • Rate of complications for hip/knee replacement patients
  • Serious complications

3. Readmissions

A readmission is defined as admission to a hospital within 30 days of a discharge from the same facility (or a sub-facility). A high rate of readmissions implies that patient issues may be repeatedly left unresolved; it could also mean there are communication issues around the medication or care needed after discharge. Understanding what’s behind a high readmission rate is the first step to improve clinical outcomes in this area.

CMS uses seven outcome measures here:

  • Hospital return days for heart attack patients
  • Hospital return days for heart failure patients
  • Hospital return days for pneumonia patients
  • Rate of unplanned readmission for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery patients
  • Rate of unplanned readmission for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients
  • Rate of unplanned readmission after hip/knee surgery
  • Rate of unplanned readmission after discharge from hospital (hospital-wide)

Why Tracking Clinical Outcomes Is A Challenge

While most hospitals are familiar with these clinical outcome measures, they may not be as familiar with the best way to track them (or any of the numerous other measures). The nitty-gritty details of tracking—who’s responsible for doing it, how often, where and how to make the results available, etc.—are stumbling blocks that can sink even the most dedicated staff members’ efforts to launch a more meaningful tracking program.

Many hospitals attempt to track clinical outcomes like the ones above using Microsoft Excel. Excel has long been a staple for data collection and most people are familiar with how to use it, both of which are reasons why it’s become the default solution.

But it has some serious drawbacks that make it unsuitable for tracking and reporting on large amounts of data, making those processes harder than they need to be. If you’re still using the desktop version:

  • Excel requires a significant amount of manual effort—pasting data, creating formulas, and tweaking formatting—to compile data. Nothing is automatic except for the calculations you create.
  • It doesn’t show data in real time, so the data you’re using to make decisions may be old.
  • It can be difficult to collaborate with others because it’s a locally installed application and not cloud-based.
  • If you’re using Excel as your main data dashboard and sharing it via email or a shared server, it can be hard to manage versions of your reports, making it necessary to continually share updated versions with everyone who needs them.

Essentially, Excel offers you a way to collect and store your data, but it falls short on helping you make good decisions on a consistent basis.

Hospitals that invest in reporting software like ClearPoint have found it pays big dividends in time savings, data accuracy, and version control; it also takes the focus off tracking and reporting and puts it on decision-making.

3 Ways ClearPoint Helps Hospitals Improve Clinical Outcome Tracking & Reporting

1. It makes data collection simple.

To track outcome measures in healthcare you need data. Don’t waste time chasing it down yourself—let ClearPoint do it for you. In our software it’s possible to:

  • Create automatic email reminders to be sent to data owners when it’s time to make updates, saving you time on that repetitive task.
  • Give data owners access to input quantitative and qualitative data directly into ClearPoint, removing the need to pass information from one person to another.
  • Automatically pull data into ClearPoint from a variety of other sources and repositories (including your Excel spreadsheets!), so no copying and pasting—and users can see the most current data at all times. (Read more about how Excel and ClearPoint can be best used together.)
  • Create user permissions, boosting the level of security around your data.
  • See the progress individual team members are making on their updates each month and provide a nudge when needed.

ClearPoint serves as a central hub for all your performance data. Many hospital administrators have found that simply having such a hub available—and making it accessible to all employees—motivates people to stay on top of their metrics and work to improve them.

2. It helps you gain insight into your data.

The whole point of data tracking is to find ways to improve your clinical outcomes. Of course, not getting bogged down with data-gathering means you have more time to analyze and interpret the data. But it’s also important to have a tool that promotes data analysis in various ways. ClearPoint can help by:

  • Automatically evaluating measures based on the data’s proximity to target criteria. For example, say your target heart attack mortality rate is to be below 14%. Depending on the data collected, ClearPoint will display a green arrow if it is below target; a yellow square if it falls within close range; and a red arrow if it’s above target.
  • Allowing easy drill-down into data points to get more detailed information about a particular outcome.
  • Allowing you to create dashboards that consolidate all your clinical outcome measures in one place for easy viewing and decision-making.
  • Offering a variety of chart types (including customization options) that can help you see how you’re progressing over time, view performance against a target, identify trends, simplify data presentation, and more.
  • Providing space for quantitative and qualitative data about measures, so users can add contextual details that tell the story behind a particular outcome, as well as give recommendations for improvement.
Outcome measures for healthcare - ClearPoint Strategy

All these features bring your data to life, showing you clearly how things are going and what needs attention. And it can all be done easily and quickly—with the click of a button.

3. Data Sharing

Your data needs to be shared with various stakeholders—managers, regulatory bodies, the public, etc.—but doing so isn’t always easy if you’re using Excel. ClearPoint makes reporting a snap because you can:

  • Quickly create customized reports in minutes, making it possible to generate a variety of reports for different audiences.
  • Share reports as PDFs, presentations, HTML documents, and more.
  • Create a reporting workflow that defines what updates are needed, by when, and by whom, and automate the entire process.
  • Automatically generate and email briefing books for specified individuals on schedule.
  • Use ClearPoint live during meetings to review data and create action items on the spot.

ClearPoint lets you share results the way you want to—you don’t have to conform to a set of limitations imposed by our software. It takes away all the headaches traditionally associated with reporting, leaving only a streamlined, smooth process that practically runs itself!

With ClearPoint, tracking outcome measures in healthcare is easy.

Give your hospital a better chance at improving clinical outcomes by arming it with the right tool. Our team is ready and waiting to support you in tracking and reporting on your most important measures in ClearPoint—whatever they may be—so reach out today and let’s get started! And if you’d like to read more about how other healthcare facilities have benefited from switching to ClearPoint, check out our case studies.

Top 3 Outcome Measures In Healthcare (& How To Track Them)

RJ Messineo

Account Executive & True Crime Fanatic

RJ drives new business for ClearPoint, guiding prospective clients through the sales process.