Health Outcomes and Outcome Measures

An outcome measure can be defined as the measurement of a change in the health of an individual, group of people or population that is attributable to an intervention or series of intervention. There are several ways to measure Health Outcomes. The measurements mostly include mortality rate, readmission, patient experience, etc. Healthcare organizations constantly seek to meet and improve quality and costs targets.

These outcome measures are frequently reported to the government, investors, and quality auditing organizations that specialize in hospital safety and quality performance.

This process of identifying Health Outcomes 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.

Health outcome measures have been grouped into seven categories based on importance. Some of these categories will be discussed below

  • Mortality (22%)
  • Safety of care (22%)
  • Readmissions (22%)
  • Patient experience (22%)
  • Effectiveness of care (4%)
  • Timeliness of care (4%)
  • Efficient use of medical imaging (4%)

Safety of Care

Safety of care outcome measures pertains to medical mistakes. Skin breakdown and hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a common safety of care outcome measures:

Skin breakdown happens when pressure decreases blood flow to the skin. A skin assessment tool can be used to reduce skin breakdown. Patients with skin breakdown are at a higher risk of infection. Patients’ risk scores go up if they’re diabetic, for example, because their circulation is poor.

Patient Experience

Patient-reported experience measures (PREMs) fall within the patient experience health outcome measure category. Patient-reported experiences assess the patient’s experience and perception of their health care. This information can provide a more realistic gauge of patient satisfaction as well as real-time information for local service improvement and to enable a more rapid response to identified issues.

Effectiveness of Care

The effectiveness of care outcome measures evaluate two things:

Compliance with best practice care guidelines and achieved outcomes. Given the rapid changes that occur in healthcare practice, making sure best practice care guidelines are current is critical for achieving the best care outcomes. It’s important to track clinician compliance to care guidelines. It’s equally important to monitor treatment outcomes and alert clinicians when care guidelines need to be reviewed. Failing to adhere to evidence-based care guidelines can have negative consequences for patients. For example, according to The Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, “even though it is well established that beta-blockers can reduce the risk of heart attack in patients who have already had one heart attack, many heart attack patients are never prescribed beta-blockers.”

Timeliness of Care

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).

Efficient Use of Medical Imaging

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).