The National Quality Forum (NQF) recommends developing a consistent set of measurable quality indicators:
Measures drive improvement - Teams of healthcare providers who review their performance measures are able to make adjustments in care, share successes, and probe for causes when progress comes up short -- all on the road to improved patient outcomes.
Measures inform consumer - Consumers can consult national sources such as HospitalCompare.gov and NursingHomeCompare.gov. As a growing number of measures are publicly reported, consumers are better able to assess quality for themselves, and use the results to make choices, ask questions, and advocate for better healthcare.
Measures influence payment - Increasingly, private and public payors use measures as preconditions for payment and targets for bonuses, whether it is paying providers for performance or instituting nonpayment for complications associated with "Serious Reportable Events."
Where to start
First, consider your population and determine what outcomes you want to improve. Some common quality indicators are frequency of falls and infections, antipsychotic use, and restraint use. These four categories represent significant risk areas for most communities. The quality indicators you choose should be specific to the needs of your population.
- Find a leader in your organization to oversee the quality assurance process. Hint: it should not be the Administrator.
- Develop a list of quality indicators that will be tracked routinely.
- Develop tracking mechanisms and start gathering data. You will first need to determine your baseline so you can measure improvements against it.
- Develop performance targets for each quality indicator.
- Determine how the team should respond to results that do not match your targets.
- Consistently document your results and approach.
- Communicate the entire process to everyone in the organization, from line staff to Board Chair. Everyone should know how you define good care and how you will ensure success.
Learn more about how to maximize your quality assurance efforts with MPA's Quality Assurance Resources.