A recent commentary (NEJM 2014; 371: 2145-47) describes some early successes and failures with efforts at “getting more performance from performance measurement.”
The authors note that “the current measurement paradigm..does not live up to its potential.” There have been a proliferation of measurements “without commensurate results.”
Areas of progress:
Reducing hospital readmissions: “national readmission rates, which hovered around 19% between 2007 and 2011, had dropped to approximately 17.5% by 2013…recent research suggests that the measured decrease resulted from actual changes in care and not simply greater use of observation units or emergency department care.”
Rates of early elective deliveries: “the rate of early elective deliveries had stayed fixed for many years, even though there was evidence that the practice led to a greater need for neonatal intensive care, higher risks of maternal and neonatal complications, and health problems later in the children’s lives…the rates of early deliveries fell from 17% in 2010 to 4.6% in 2013 (www.leapfroggroup.org/tooearlydeliveries)” This change happened due metrics in pay-for-performance or not paying for such deliveries along with educational efforts.
Areas Were Not Helpful (aka The Road Paved with Good Intentions)
“Unfortunately, for every instance in which performance initiatives improved care, there were cases …[that] simply enraged colleagues or inspired expenditures that produced no care improvements.”
Early Antibiotics for Community-Acquired Pneumonia: Due to data suggesting that antibiotics within 6 hours of presentation positively influenced the outcome of community-acquired pneumonia (i.e. lower in-hospital mortality), this became a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) metric. “The measure led to inappropriate antibiotic use in patients without community-acquired pneumonia, had adverse consequences such as Clostridium difficile colitis, and did not reduce mortality.”
Bottomline: More work is needed to avoid needless busy work and improve patient outcomes.
As quoted in a previous blog entry:
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” –Albert Einstein