Why You Should be Tracking Healthcare Quality Key Performance Indicators

January 22, 2017 Stephanie Radcliffe

Tracking data is nothing new in healthcare. Scorecards, measures, frameworks: there a million different ways to capture data. KPIs are a new way of viewing data that's rapidly taking off in healthcare. Simply, KPIs show you at a glance if a metric is good, okay or needs improvement. Organizations often measure these as trends over time, which is helpful to show improvement, or against specific benchmarks. The latter is especially helpful when the metric has mandated targets, such as never events. 

Some organizations that track KPIs may share them publicly, such as patient wait time targets. Almost all of them share KPIs internally with their board or executive leadership. These busy people spend all day looking at information so a dashboard is a great way to present quality data in an easy-to-understand format. Something as simple as a dashboard that shows whether a measure is up or down can help the board know what areas need more attention. 

The Scoop on RL6 Dashboards
 

WATCH: Heidi explains how RL's dashboards can help you interpret your data to see what's really going on at your organization.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you choose which KPIs to track is this: choose the KPI because it gives you data that you can use to make decisions that improve care. Too often we get caught in the trap of tracking data because it makes you feel like you're doing something. But data is only useful if you use it to make informed choices.  

So what KPIs should you be tracking? Since KPIs originated in the business world, you'll see lots of lists of financial KPIs. While these are essential to track the operational efficiency of a hospital, they're not always the best indicator of quality. 

Here's a roundup of some useful links to help you build out a list of KPIs your organization should track: 

  • Rahimi et al. wrote a 2017 paper on KPIs in hospital based on balanced scorecard model, identifying 10 key KPIs for internal process: average length of stay, bed occupancy, mean length of stay in the emergency department, mortality rate, bed turnover, discharge with personal satisfaction, Emergency Room (ER) waiting time, hospital infection rate, canceled operations, clinical errors
  • Becker's Hospital Review summarizes 16 Potential Key Performance Indicators for Hospitals related to inpatient flow and revenue cycle. Key quality indicators to consider include harm events per 1,000 patient days, readmission rate and patient satisfaction.
  • The Health Information and Quality Authority of Ireland developed Guidance on Developing KPIs. This comprehensive report includes a scoring matrix and a template to define potential a KPI.

A final tip? RL users can use the dashboard to display gauges, bar charts, cards and more to display this data and stay on top of KPIs. 

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