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Written by: Bob Habasevich, PT on Friday, March 25, 2011 Posted in: Inpatient Rehab

In part one of the series, I talked about the process of clinical performance management. Today, I will discuss the magnitude of data collection and management.

Today’s clinical challenge is data. Collecting and formatting data for analysis is the most expensive and most resisted part of managing performance. The second challenge is generating insights and meaning from the data. This is the purpose of analytics. By applying analytics to the data, we can gather the necessary insights needed to facilitate better and faster fact-based decisions.

The value of data and analytics is demonstrated when measurement tools are used to quantify the status of a particular system or relationship. These metrics enable continuous improvement and set performance expectations. Defining the effective set of performance metrics, the associated data and analysis is the first step to begin performance management efforts to continuously improve or maximize quantifiable results. The data must be the by-product of the clinical process, not additions to it.

It is essential to secure upfront agreement on what outcomes are expected and how this impact will be measured in financial, operational and comparative terms (e.g., how providers rank against each other.)

For most healthcare organizations, there are many key metrics required to measure and manage performance. One way to select key performance metrics is to define how to quantify three primary clinical performance parameters: clinical process effectiveness, patient success and clinical impact on the mission, vision and business of the organization.

Core metrics and underlying measures provide the intelligence to help management diagnose how well things are going, identify emerging issues, react to, and correct variances and enable continuous improvement. These data and analytics determine whether management initiatives are working.

Remember that metrics need to demonstrate provider effectiveness, efficiency and financial value against the business outcomes. It is necessary to balance the internal operational efficiencies with external performance goals. While operational efficiencies examine how efficiently people, resources and capital are being used, the external performance goals measure and assess how effective the provider is at producing the desired results and impacting the business outcomes. Healthcare executives, managers and clinicians will be accountable for these decisions.

Healthcare providers have not effectively communicated where this balance is drawn and now find themselves responding to the overwhelming criticism of excessive cost and questionable quality arguments demanding a transparency of information about their processes. Providers are reluctant to disclose information they do not understand. In regards to people, it may be necessary to explore what skills need to be developed to help the hospital’s management team embrace and use data, analytics and metrics, and what training will be needed to help people adjust to roles and responsibilities based on performance. For many this requires a look at perhaps a change in the patient care delivery culture within the hospital.

While this work is necessary, it is not an easy undertaking. It’s not one that many providers can do alone. And even if they could, they must often address technology, processes and skills to effectively leverage data, analytics and metrics. CI is required; management’s ability to impact clinical performance depends upon it.