Outcome Measures in Health Care and Its Relation to Process and Balance Measures

In the health care field and industry, there are three types of measure: Outcome measures, process measures, and balance measure. These three types of measure are different and focus on different purposes of course but they also have some similarities and overlap. In this article, we are going to discuss What are Outcome Measures in Health Care and also what are process measures and balance measures

Difference between Outcome Measures and Process Measures

The most comprehensive definition of what are Outcome Measures in Health Care: an outcome measure is the result of a test that is used to objectively determine the baseline functions of a patient at the beginning of their treatment. Once treatment has commenced, the same instrument can be used to determine progress and treatment efficacy. The 7 most important outcome measures for a health care organization are:

  1. Mortality
  2. Safety of care
  3. Readmissions
  4. Patient experience
  5. Effectiveness of care
  6. Timeliness of care
  7. Efficient use of medical imaging

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has grouped these outcome measures with percentages that show their level of importance

  • Mortality (22%)
  • Safety of care (22%)
  • Readmissions (22%)
  • Patient experience (22%)
  • The effectiveness of care (4%)
  • Timeliness of care (4%)
  • Efficient use of medical imaging (4%)

Process measures

These measures are the specific steps in a process that lead — either positively or negatively — to a particular outcome metric. Process measures are applied during process improvement which should be ongoing as opposed to a one-off task.

Process measures are the evidence-based best practices that represent a health care organization’s efforts to have it’s improvements efforts in a systemized process. Process measures are put in place in order to improve outcome measures.  Process improvement in health care can be defined as the proactive task of identifying analyzing and improving the existing process in a health care organization or hospital. The goal of process improvement is to optimize resources and time to meet new standards of quality.  Process improvement involves a systematic approach which follows a specific methodology. There are different approaches to make and that’s why there are various examples of process improvement in health care. Some general examples of process improvement are benchmarking and lean manufacturing. Different approaches to process management use different methods of course and focus on different areas of improvement. In health care, you don’t have to stick with one model of process improvement model to achieve your goal. Processes can be modified, two processes can be combined and sub-processes can be used to complement the main process chosen. And of course, process measures can be used in combination with outcome measures and balance measures

Balance measures

A balance measure is a strategic long-term system set in place to achieve long-term management goals. With Balance measures, the long-term goals are:

  • establishing a results-oriented set of measures that balance business goals, customer needs and satisfaction, and employee involvement, development, and satisfaction with working conditions;
  • establishing accountability at all levels of the organization, through leading by example, cascading accountability, and keeping everyone informed;
  • collecting, using and analyzing performance data, which includes providing feedback;
  • connecting performance management efforts to the organization’s business plan and budget; and
  • sharing the leadership role, which strengthens the continuity of the performance management process despite changes in top management.

The Use of Technology in Achieving Outcome Measures

Technology is used to implement and achieve outcome measure and as with many things in the health care industry, technology helps to speed up the process and helps hospital management achieve all their goals. However, there are some disadvantages of using technology. The use of technology is meant to reduce human effort and fine tune tasks more efficiently and quickly. With technology, outcome measures achieve what they are meant to achieve in a faster and more efficient manner. The same goes for process measures and balance measure. With the advent of big data and its continuous growth, without technology, health care organizations will not be able to achieve all their improvement goals and even carrying out basic functions will be a hassle.