Measuring Health Care Quality is Confusing by Carolyn Pare

My last blog was spurred by the release of the Leapfrog Group’s fall update to Hospital Safety Scores. Whenever new data is released, it is inevitably dissected and debated, mostly by health care industry insiders who have all hitched their wagon to one quality measurement organization or another.

At The Action Group, we make the various reports available to members to raise awareness about the very real and very serious hospital quality and safety issues confronting each and every patient. We do our best to distill and present the information in ways that are helpful and understandable.

Still, this lead-in to a recent article caught my attention: “We need to measure the hell out of healthcare to help us compare one organization or system with others. I believe measuring quality helps healthcare systems improve. But I also believe that we can measure healthcare quality a lot better than we do.”

I could not agree more with author Cheryl Clark’s assertion that we are missing the boat in making the numerous evaluations “meaningful to leaders, to providers, to patients, and to the public.” In the admirable quest to improve care quality, multiple and redundant reports are a huge turn-off to the uninitiated. When people don’t know what matters, nothing matters.

Depending on who you believe, anywhere from 100,000 to as many as 330,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors. I think we can all agree that it doesn’t really matter which quality measurement organization is most provocative. What matters is that we do our part in contributing to improving the system — and to educating and informing consumers about the risks and how to lower them.

With so many rating systems and so many data imperfections, what are we to do? My recommendation is to stay tuned in to what your fellow members are doing to raise awareness about hospital quality and safety issues, and to take advantage of Action Group peer-to-peer collaboration opportunities and resources. Share your experiences with us, so we all can learn from your successes and challenges.

Learn more about these Action Group initiatives that promote quality and safety:

 

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