As healthcare professionals our professional interactions with our users can result in a range of outcomes on which we are judged - “good enough” is simply not good enough!
The processes and procedures which determine outcomes are not directly visible so measurement has become “the lens” through which performance is judged. But measurement alone is not sufficient to give any assurance of safety and quality of care. The power of measurement lies in entrenching a culture of safety and quality, and, its capacity to trigger informed action if it is used constructively in the proper context.
Healthcare organisations are particularly complex and a sophisticated system of performance measurement is the golden thread which connects all the interdependent parts of care pathways so that they work together to achieve optimum outcomes for the users our services. Unfortunately, many healthcare organisations do not have one integrated performance measurement system.
When the measurement system is properly integrated and working well managers will focus on the right courses of action and minimise problems, such as:
The Functions of Performance Measurement
Over the last twenty years or so, we have seen performance measurements increase dramatically in healthcare organisations while simultaneously we appear to be experiencing increasing cases of abject poor care?
Are healthcare organisations measuring to ‘look good’ rather than measuring to ‘be good’?
When measurement is linked directly with big rewards or punishment (and fear) there is always a risk that the value of measurement will be undermined and rendered dysfunctional. “Measurement dysfunction” occurs when the measurement process itself contributes to behaviour which is not in the best interests of the organisation due to intentional and unintentional distortion and manipulations of data. When this occurs, specific numbers (Key Performance Indicators) might improve, but the performance that is really important will worsen.
Measuring to ‘be good’ is using measurements the right way, measuring to ‘look good’ is misusing the power of measurement.
Gus Lusack is an experienced HCPC registered Biomedical Scientist who has worked in both the NHS and private sector. He has a keen interest in the subject of value creation in healthcare through improving quality and decreasing waste within restricted budgets. Gus has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification and is an APMG – International PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner.