Over the past ten years healthcare research and policy makers have identified and promoted a wide number of indicators of quality healthcare. Quality indicators usually fall into two categories:
1.) whether the patients have received services that research shows are associated with better outcomes for the particular health problem; or
2.) whether the actual clinical outcome has improved for the patients with a specific medical problem.
For example for patients who have been determined to have high blood pressure an indicator of quality is whether an accurate blood pressure has been taken in the past three months and the measure of quality could be what percent of a clinical team’s patients with high blood pressure (HPB) have had their blood pressure measured in the past six months. This is sometimes called a process measure because we are measuring a clinical process or whether a service or action was carried out. The practice or an outside agency may also set a goal for this measure such as 90% of all patients with HBP should have their blood pressure taken within the past six months.
An example of an outcome measure for patients with HPB would be the percent of adult patients whose blood pressure was below 140/90. The blood pressure value that is set as the measure has been determined by research that has established that maintaining a blood pressure at this level significantly reduces the risks of serious health problems such as heart attack and strokes. The goal for this measure might be 80% of all patients with HBP would have a blood pressure under 140/90.
The big idea behind setting indicators, measures and goals is that they are useful tools for determining if a health center is producing the results that are wanted. The indictors provide a way for the staff and to see the results of care for all patients and to plan and take action if the results are below expectations. The quality indicators provide a window into the practice of medicine. Certainly it is not the only window but indicators are becoming more and more important especially so with the federal government and private insurers now factoring the indicators into how hospitals and health centers will be paid.
CCHS regularly examines its practices using multiple quality indicators, some of which are required by participation in special health programs such as the Federal Community Health Center program and Blue Cross’s Quality Blue program.
CAHPS Patient Satisfaction Results
CCHS Monthly Dashboard