According to the World Health Organization, an outcome measure is a change in the health of an individual, group of people or population that is attributable to an intervention or series of intervention. This could include mortality rate, readmission, patient experience, etc. Healthcare organizations constantly seek to meet and improve quality and costs targets. In order to understand How to Improve Patient Outcomes, these outcome measures are frequently reported to the government, investors, and quality auditing organizations that specialize in hospital safety and quality performance. This process ensures a maintenance and increases in transparency among health care providers in order to reduce unwanted outcomes such as mortality, accidents and human errors in hospitals. In addition to the prevention of these negative outcomes, quality measures also help, improve patient experience of care, improve the health of populations and reduce the per capita cost of healthcare.

There are steps that need to be taken to ensure that we understand how to improve patient outcomes. Health systems’ ultimate goal is to improve patient outcomes. But outcomes improvement can’t happen without effective outcomes measurement. The three main steps to be taken are:

Transparency:

The healthcare industry is on a journey to outcomes transparency. Patients want outcomes data so they can make educated decisions about their healthcare. Quality reporting organizations, such as The LeapFrog Group, evaluate and report U.S. hospital safety and quality performance. Patients want reassurance they’re receiving the best care for the lowest cost—publicly reported outcomes help.

Integrated Care: The industry is also shifting toward integrated care—we aren’t just treating a hip anymore; we’re treating the whole person. A key component of integrated care is helping patients with transitions; easing patient transitions from the ER, to surgery, to inpatient care, to rehab, and, ultimately, back to a steady, normal state. Transitional points of care are critical for managing consistency of care and providing the right care in the right setting at the lowest cost.

Interoperability:

Sharing data between departments within an integrated system is another important component. Outcomes measurement and improvement depends on the system’s ability to share data across clinicians, labs, hospitals, pharmacies, and other staff, departments, and settings. EDWs improve interoperability by integrating data and providing a single source of truth. Improving critical care transitions through integrated care and seamlessly exchanging data through interoperability are essential ingredients for better outcomes measurement. For example, as heart failure patients are discharged (depending on the risk stratification), it’s critical for them to see a cardiologist or primary care physician as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they are discharged and have a higher risk of being readmitted.

The efficient use of medical imaging is an increasingly important outcome measure. According to the European Science Foundation, “Medical imaging plays a central role in the global healthcare system as it contributes to improved patient health outcome and more cost-efficient healthcare in all major disease entities.”

The following outcome and process measures illustrate how health systems improve outcomes by improving processes:

  • Conducting a medication reconciliation system check with heart failure patients at the time of discharge (process measure) can reduce heart failure readmission rates (outcome measure).
  • Performing a fall risk assessment on a patient at the time of admission (process measure) can reduce fall rates (outcome measure).
  • Using a skin assessment tool (process measure) can prevent skin breakdown (outcome measure).

 

Timeliness of care outcome measures patient access to care. For example, a health system working to design a more efficient and accurate system for assessing sepsis developed an analytics platform to track the timeliness of care delivery, including several interventions: lactate tests, blood cultures, antibiotics, and central venous pressure (CVP).