The Truven Health Blog

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By Truven Staff

Data is More than Numbers When Addressing Quality

Michael R. Udwin imageIn the July 2, 2013 edition, HealthLeaders Media stated "Healthcare Quality Metrics ‘Abysmal,’ Senate Panel Hears," and this article clearly highlighted the palpable frustration voiced by providers, payers and patients. How do we characterize hospital outcomes that would be meaningful to all three groups and most importantly drive best practices?
If the hospital CEO pronounced that we expect all care in the hospital to be the “best,” it would likely be met with applause and a shrug of the shoulders. Who would argue against such a goal? Yet, how do I, listening to that call to action, effectively contribute to this vision?

Of course, it begins with meaningful, actionable data that effectively captures the essence of both gaps in current performance and strengths upon which to leverage future efforts.  Recognizing that leadership often views success from 30,000 feet; change is accomplished one project at a time and by ensuring all stakeholders trust the data and believe he or she can impact the diagnosis or procedure in question.

No doubt the public confusion over healthcare information will persist in the short term. Competing safety measures, migration from process to outcomes metrics, and multiple means to “rate” care have lead to a spectrum of responses; from frenetic reflexive behavior to fearful cautious retreat. It is our call to action to ensure that data is more than just numbers; that it provides clarity to those delivering best practice and accurately reflects the standards of excellence we all expect as patients!

Michael R. Udwin, MD, FACOG
National Medical Director