The New Metrics

HealthLeaders Media Staff, August 1, 2017

The business and clinical intelligence that are necessary for healthcare leaders to better manage their organizations are changing rapidly. Returns may be greatest for organizations that are able to measure outcomes and show value.

This article first appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

An old saying from Six Sigma and other process improvement regimes is that "what gets measured gets done." That’s important for senior healthcare executives to remember. But that truth leaves out the critical question of what should be measured.

The options are literally endless, but determining the most important metrics to measure in an era in which healthcare is transforming is no trivial decision.

The move toward reimbursement based on the value the healthcare organization provides to the patient and the payer, which is happening at vastly different rates in some geographical areas compared to others, means that asking and answering that question at regular intervals is crucial.

If that’s the case, what are the metrics that leaders need to watch to ensure clinical, financial, and strategic success?

This special issue of HealthLeaders examines how high-performing organizations are instilling and adapting to new performance measures that healthcare leaders need to track to "get value done."

Our editorial team talked with more than a dozen organizations in a variety of sectors, from leaders of hospital inpatient organizations to payer leaders, from leaders of postacute care organizations to information technology, nursing, and finance leaders; all have measurements they find useful to achieve value in a rapidly transforming healthcare business environment.

Some metrics may be familiar, such as admissions or readmissions per thousand patients. Other metrics may be unfamiliar, such as a "user resource metric," part of which incorporates the speed with which patient calls are answered at a call center.

Many more important metrics are clinical in nature, but are often monitored and reported by the financial arms of the organization, as they provide a proxy for customer satisfaction, a growing component of the value equation.

Also critical is the latency of such measurements. For example, it’s less valuable to learn about line infection rates and sepsis diagnoses after the patient has been discharged, because little can be done to influence the statistics by that time.

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