Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Measurement in Perspective

Measurement in Perspective

measurement-in-perspective- image0We measure a number of things associated with the business of Texas Tech Physicians. Much like a dashboard in your car—some gauges are more important to us than others—but they all measure different things and are generally centered around our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Why do we measure things?  Well, as one expert said, “All human progress depends on measurement.”  Continuing the auto dashboard analogy, an empty fuel tank miles from the nearest town is worse than seeing that it is time for an oil change.  Oil changes are important, but a lack of gasoline is critical.  Therefore, we watch numerous indicators to assess our overall performance.

I think that the expert is right, all progress does depend on measurement. A measure is a basis for comparison and a reference point against which other things can be evaluated.

Today’s measures in health care are becoming both more precise and more complex. It is exciting to see and be a part of where we are going next.  For example, we hear a lot about population health.  I think the next generation of measures will span health care settings and episodes of care to present a more complete picture of care. Measurement has long been a part of medicine—where would we be without the basic instruments of measurement such as the thermometer, stethoscope, sphygmomanometer and glucometer, along with measures for blood cell count, hemoglobin, cholesterol, and countless other metrics?

The wider adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) can do even more for measurement.  Of course, we use the Cerner EHR. EHRs represents a tremendous boon for patient care and patient experience, they put all of the relevant information, including a patient’s medical history, at a provider’s fingertips. Patients can avoid duplicate tests or imaging. EHRs make measurement and performance data available on a real-time basis, making healthcare more responsive to patient needs. Without good data, healthcare systems simply cannot accurately measure and assess performance.

Regarding the reporting of measures—well, the internet is a game-changer to use a popular phrase. Measures will become clearer and easier for patients and their families to understand and use comparative data. Exciting times.