- The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released a new report outlining fifteen “vital signs” for assessing population health management and tracking the healthcare system’s progress towards better patient outcomes. The core measures are intended to increase transparency and simplify the process of collecting clinical and population-based quality information for providers who have been deluged with hundreds of different strategies for benchmarking their effort to improve patient safety, cut costs, and produce better overall health outcomes for patient community.
“US health care costs and expenditures are the highest in the world, but health outcomes and the quality of care are below average by many measures,” said committee chair David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund in New York City.
“If we want to know how effective and efficient our health expenditures are in order to improve health and lower costs, we need to measure the most crucial health outcomes to guide our choices and gauge impact. The proposed core set focuses on the most powerful measures that have the greatest potential to positively affect the health and well-being of Americans.”
The IOM hopes that the proposed measures will reduce some of the overlap between existing clinical quality reporting programs. CMS has close to 1700 measures in its library and the National Quality Forum maintains 630 different criteria for judging quality and outcomes. As health IT adoption makes reporting on clinical data an easier proposition, the refinement and simplification of quality measures may help to reduce some of the administrative burdens faced by providers participating in multiple initiatives.
The fifteen measures include:
- Life expectancy
- Overweight and obesity
- Addictive behavior
- Unintended pregnancy
- Healthy communities
- Preventive services
- Access to care
- Patient safety
- Evidence-based care
- Care that matches patient goals
- Personal spending burden
- Population spending burden
- Individual engagement
- Community engagement
The report suggests that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should use the tightened list of measures for future reporting and benchmarking programs that support population health management. HHS should also take the lead in urging other stakeholders, including federal and state agencies, to adopt the standardized set of metrics in an effort to align quality programs across the care continuum.
“Leadership from stakeholders throughout the nation is key to implementing the set of core measures in the health care system,” said Victor Dzau, president of the Institute of Medicine. “The core measurements proposed in the report would harmonize the large number of existing metrics, reduce the redundancies, and decrease the excessive burden on providers and health systems. This opportunity to align and widely adopt these measures could help the nation progress toward better health at lower cost.”