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taming the measurement monster article

taming the measurement monster article - Taming the...

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Taming the Measurement Monster PATRICE L. SPATH SUMMARY • The healthcare performance measurement landscape continues to evolve. Despite questions about the value of performance data, healthcare organizations are being challenged to meet the data demands of a growing number of mandatory and voluntary measurement projects. Standardization of measure specifications and definitions is months (if not years) away. For healthcare organizations, the measurement "monster" may seem impossible to tame. Although the measurement capabilities of healthcare organizations are being stretched, there are some solutions. First, senior executives must be actively involved in promoting a meaningful measurement system that is com- patible with the organization's quality goals and meets regulatory, purchaser, and accreditation requirements. Next, efficiency improvements in the way of systemwide collaboration and expanded information technology support can help reduce the administrative burdens. There is no denying that the focus on measurement has advanced the quality of patient care. Healthcare organiza- tions must create the systems necessary to sustain these gains and move for- ward toward ever better patient care. Patrice L. Spath is the president of Brown-Spath & Associates in Forest Grove, Oregon and is an adjunct assistant professor in the department of health ser- vices administration at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. [nrO PATRICE L. SPATH • 3
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PERHAPS IT HAS become a cliche, all this talk about change as a constant in the healthcare industry and the need to stay ahead of the curve. But cliches develop for a reason—usually because they have a ring of truth. In the case of performance measurement, and particularly publicly available performance data, the pace-of- change platitudes are meaningful. Perfor- mance measurement was relatively static until the 1990s. For the most part, health- care organizations used to have consider- able latitude in selecting performance indicators and establishing quality stan- dards. All that began to change in the 1980s, and the rate of Like kids in a candy store, change has rapidly acceler- everyone wants more and ated in recent years. more data with seemingly ^^ ^^^^^ ^^^ hardly a . . . , «- , month goes by without some httle regard for the pro- ^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^ mandatory vider's financial burden of initiative aimed at evaluating capturing that information, another aspect of the quality or safety of healthcare ser- vices, like kids in a candy store, everyone— purchasers, regulators, accrediting bodies, researchers, and clinicians—^wants more and more data with seemingly little regard for the provider's financial burden of cap- turing that information. According to one study, a hospital can spend up to $100,000 annually to collect, report, and analyze data for just three of the Joint Commission's Core Measure sets (heart attack, heart fail- ure, and pneumonia) (Anderson and Sin- clair 2006). Even when the data can be gathered from existing information sys- tems, the cost of linking different data sets,
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