Improving Hospital Metrics with Cohorts and Clinical Metrics

Clinical metrics can be defined as pieces of information with which metrics can be based. Improving Hospital Metrics is crucial to the sustained lifespan of a healthcare organization. Clinical metrics is often mistaken for cohorts but they are quite different. The do share some similarities and it can get quite hard to differentiate them but mixing them up can cause quality improvement initiatives and projects to be delayed.

A cohort can be defined is a group of subjects who have experienced some form of disease or injury. For example, you can have cohorts of patients with heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Cohorts can be further narrowed down to more specifics, like grouping heart patients who had problems with the right side of their hearts only together in one cohort group. One patient can be in multiple cohorts.

Clinical metrics are facts about patients in cohorts that can be changed. With clinical metrics, you can measure the behavior and conditions of patients in a cohort. For example, you can measure whether they are taking a certain medication, or if they are following an exercise program or the last time they visited their primary care physician. Clinical metrics assigns values to patients on cohorts and tracking these values shows weather the quality improvement initiatives of a healthcare organization is delivering the desired outcomes.

When regulatory standards are not being met or when costs seem to be rising, a healthcare organization can initiate a quality improvement initiative. During quality improvement initiatives in healthcare organizations, in the beginning, stages, it is good to identify areas that produce faster results. When you identify an area that needs improvement, then the whole team is brought up to speed on the next steps to implement the process.

In some instances, these areas are identified before the team is built and so the identified areas influences how the team is built and what kind of members are involved. The team should consist of an executive sponsor as well as a workgroup led by subject matter experts, including a physician and a nurse leader in the area you want to improve. You’ll also need a data architect and perhaps other support personnel such as someone from the lab.

Improving Hospital Metrics

After an area for improvement is identified and the team is put in place, the next step is to build a cohort and start defining the clinical metrics for each cohort. If a healthcare organization has an enterprise data warehouse, it enables them to build a cohort at a quick pace because the data is already in place. Cohorst can be built using data warehouses by expanding the parameters and defining it is needed to fit the goals of the cohort building team. Without an EDW, or an analytics application that can delve into your EHR, you are looking at a long, tedious manual process.

Why are Finding Strategies for Improving Quality in Healthcare So Difficult?

I’m sure you’ve had that feeling when lying in bed that tomorrow is going to be different; that you’re finally going to be more active or eating better or start on another new and ambitious goal. Basically, it comes down to having a new day and a new focus. This isn’t much different when it comes to the ambitions within a healthcare system to make changes for the betterment of patients and professionals. However, finding the strategies for improving quality in healthcare isn’t as simple as pickup up a book or set your mind toward something better. Don’t worry, it also isn’t as unattainable as you might have heard from others.

Any sort of improvement project has many sorts of phases and unique challenges that can and often do trip up even the best of us. This can be exacerbated when looking at and dealing with different departments, different people and personalities, sometimes different locations, and different obligations or requirements. This doesn’t mean that you throw your hands up and forget the whole ideal, but you map out what you need, where you want to go and what kind of goals or improvements that you want to be mastered. As explained in the articled linked above, the top five essentials to finding quality improvement in a healthcare organization start with leadership.

Malleable People and Environments

Change, especially substantial changes, come from the top down and require some flexibility or compromise on the part of everyone involved. Because not every healthcare organization works the same, it is impossible to expect that the exact framework for an internal system will be sufficient or helpful across the board. You can look to successes and even failures of another organization and learn from them, but the implementation of software and adherence to it requires everyone to learn new things, change routines, and make concessions that they may not want to. However, when leaders are on board and able to answer questions, direct people and take things under control, the staff is usually more willing to follow.

Analyzing the Data

Finding the root of a problem, or in this case, the areas where improvement is needed, may not be as easy as walking around the organization and seeing what is going on. In fact, most inefficiencies are multilayered and require in-depth understanding. All facilities are expected to take and store data about patients and organizational practices/purchases for a myriad of reasons. Why not put that data to good use and find out where problem areas are occurring, inefficiencies are more prevalent and waste is abundant? Data-driven decisions are not based on any biases, personal prejudices or guessing games, but will lead to real change where they are really needed.