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16 Quality Measures In Healthcare
Here are some of the most popular and useful measurements you can start tracking tomorrow to improve your facility’s quality of care.
For most organizations, measuring the quality of anything can be difficult. After all, how can you put numbers to a standard of excellence? The healthcare industry has met this challenge by measuring certain outcomes of care to determine quality.
Generally speaking, positive outcomes translate to a high quality of care. This leads to increased funding and business for hospitals. On the other hand, low quality of care increases costs and can put lives at risk.
To guide your organization on how to start focusing on quality improvement and outcomes of care, we’ve collected 16 popular—and useful—measurements you can start tracking tomorrow.
Examples Of Quality Measures In Healthcare
Quality measures are easier to understand when organized into an accepted framework. For the purposes of this article, we’ll reference the popular Institute of Medicine (IOM) Quality Framework. Below are examples of quality measures in healthcare for each of IOM’s three categories, or domains.
These quality control measures relate to reducing medical errors and protecting patients.
- Number Of Medication Errors: The frequency of errors when prescribing medication. A high number could indicate a problem with the facility’s prescription ordering system.
- Complication Rate: The percentage of patients who develop complications (typically surgical complications) as a result of care. It can be tracked by a specific timeframe or division. A high rate of complications is common for hospitals that regularly perform high-risk procedures; or it can indicate a low quality of care.
- Percentage Leaving Against Medical Advice: The number of patients who check out of the hospital against the advice of doctors, divided by the total number of patients served. A high percentage may mean the facility isn’t adequately serving patients who need treatment, a situation that can lead to high readmission rates or public safety issues.
- Post-Procedure Death Rate: The number of deaths that occur after treatment. There are expected death rates (low to high percentages) for each procedure. For accuracy, the post-procedure death rate measurement must factor the risk level into calculations. Track it hospital-wide, as well as for specific divisions and surgical teams.
Effectiveness, Efficiency & Timeliness
Effectiveness measures relate to services based on established medical treatments or knowledge (care that’s been proven to work), efficiency measures focus on avoiding waste (waste of time, resources, or equipment), and timeliness measures evaluate the promptness of services (reducing wait times, eliminating discharge delays, etc.). Many of these are commonly included in larger quality improvement programs, too.
- Readmission Rate: The percentage of patients readmitted divided by the total number of patients served during a specific time period. A high percentage could indicate care is low quality and ineffective.
- Hospital Acquired Conditions (HACs): The number of new conditions patients contracted during their hospital stay. HACs can be anything that are a direct result of receiving healthcare, ranging from allergic reactions to medication or pressure ulcers.
- Average Minutes Per Surgery: The time to complete a surgical procedure. This measure is usually segmented by type of surgery and references standard deviations. High variations in time or abnormally long surgeries may indicate the surgical process isn’t structured in an efficient or methodical manner, which can lead to a decrease in quality.
- Average Length Of Stay: The total time it takes for patients to be admitted, treated, and discharged. If this number is low and other effectiveness measures are positive, this could indicate a highly efficient facility.
Patient Wait Times By Process Step: This measure is broken down into sub-measures that track the timeliness of a hospital’s primary process steps. For example:
- Arrival to bed: How long a patient waits after being checked in to be placed in a bed.
- Arrival to nurse or physician: How long a patient waits after being checked in to see a provider.
- Arrival to discharge: How long it takes for a patient to be discharged after check in.
There is a chronological flow to this measure, and results provide insight not only into quality of care but also patient satisfaction rates.
Patient-Centered & Equitable
This last domain of quality performance measures in healthcare focuses on ensuring the hospital’s services are respectful and responsive to patients' needs, while providing the same high level of care to everyone.
- Doctor-Patient Communication Frequency: How frequent and seamlessly doctors, patients, and proceduralists communicate. Even when controlling for treatment types, this can be difficult to accurately measure. Yet establishing general benchmarks can provide insight into whether patient needs are being considered.
- Number Of Patient Complaints: The amount of complaints submitted by patients regarding the care they received. These complaints could be submitted in the midst of care or post-treatment.
- Overall Patient Satisfaction: Patients’ perception of their quality of care. Typically, hospitals collect feedback by mailing and emailing surveys to previous patients. Low satisfaction can signal a problem with hospital operations or care quality, but high scores are often used as marketing tools to promote the hospital and attract donors.
- Hours Of Valuable Employee Training: The number of training hours and corresponding employee evaluations of training. If training hours are high and hospital employees find those trainings to be helpful, then patient care and quality will likely be better.
- Patient-To-Staff Ratio: The number of hospital staff divided by the number of patients for a specific time period. This indicates whether the facility—or even a certain division—is under- or overstaffed. Typically, understaffing leads to a decline in quality.
- Number Of Referrals: The number of patients referred to another facility. If referrals are high, it may indicate patient needs aren’t being met, or it could simply serve to track the volume of patients being sent to more specialized facilities.
- Occupancy Rate: The number of rooms filled with patients divided by the total number of rooms in the hospital. Some hospitals have a greater capacity for being over-occupied and can use other departments and hospital beds, but others are small and lack those resources. If a facility’s occupancy rate is too high for its size, then resources are likely spread thin and the quality of service could drop.
How Strategy Software Can Help
Once you’ve identified which quality and safety measures in healthcare are most important for your facility, you need to figure out how to track those measures so you can improve. With strategy management software like ClearPoint, each department or division within the hospital can create its own scorecard and then tie performance results to the larger organization’s healthcare quality goals. Here’s an example of what that dashboard could look like. For perhaps the first time, you’ll have visibility and alignment across the organization.
You can also leverage the positive results of your healthcare quality measures in marketing initiatives. ClearPoint allows you to share and publish dashboards, and custom reports can be created in a few clicks. It’s easy to include quality measures and results in public-facing collateral, showing where you’re a leader in the industry while attracting donors.
Quality measures are critical to any healthcare facility’s strategic planning because they point to where a facility is excelling, and where it can improve. These measures also tend to drive other measures within organizations because they indicate how a hospital should shift its finances and resources. Once you start measuring quality for your organization, you’ll have the information you need to provide the best care to your community.