From observation, it’s easy to see that in the past the United States healthcare system has been more reactive than proactive and much has not changed now. The primary focus is still to help sick patients restore their health and on and on it goes.
This is essentially what is referred to as Outcome Based Medicine. Most outcomes based medicine/healthcare definitions center on a reactive approach to healthcare which is the curing of diseases. Operating in reactive mode, health systems continuously ask, “Did we cure that sepsis patient?” or “Did we properly treat that heart failure patient?”
In outcomes-based healthcare, health systems focus on reducing variation in how they treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions—a process that requires all clinicians to provide accurate diagnoses and treatment algorithms to improve patient outcomes. Health care organizations and hospitals are constantly striving to overcome inefficiencies and provide high quality care to patients.
Although improving the way health systems care for sick patients is vital, it is not the only goal of outcomes-based healthcare hence solely focusing on improving health system inefficiencies is myopic. An outcomes-based healthcare should also target a more proactive approach to healthcare such as creating a healthcare system that strives to maintain healthy populations and prevent illness. Embracing the proactive aspect of outcomes-based healthcare leads health systems to consistently ask several questions like:
- How do we maintain the health of our patient populations?
- How do we prevent illness and keep individuals out of the hospital?
- How do we operate outside our system walls to optimize community healthcare?
- How do we incorporate population health into our business model?
Now speaking of outcome measure, it helps to understand how it is practiced. I.e how do you measure patient or healthcare outcomes? Well there are some established ways to do so and we will discuss a few:
Some Way to Measure Outcomes
Through Patient Experience:
Outcomes can be measured by taking into account patient-reported experiences. Patient reported experiences fall within the patient experience outcome measure category. According to the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI), PREMs assess the patient’s experience and perception of their health care. This information can provide a more realistic gauge of patient satisfaction as well as real-time information for local service improvement and to enable a more rapid response to identified issues.” For example, a patient might be asked to complete a satisfaction survey (on a scale of 1-5) about the care they received.
Effectiveness of Care:
Effectiveness of care outcome measures evaluates two things and the first is: “Compliance with best practice care guidelines”. Achieved outcomes (e.g., lower readmission rates for heart failure patients). Given the rapid changes that occur within healthcare, making sure best practice care guidelines are current is critical for achieving the best care outcomes. It’s important to track clinician compliance with care guidelines; It’s equally important to monitor treatment outcomes and alert clinicians when care guidelines need to be reviewed.
Timeliness of Care:
This is another outcome measure parameter. Timeliness of care outcome measures assess patient access to care. For example, a health system working to design a more efficient and accurate system for assessing sepsis developed an analytics platform to track the timeliness of care delivery, including several interventions: lactate tests, blood cultures, antibiotics, and central venous pressure (CVP).
Efficient Use of Medical Imaging:
The efficient use of medical imaging is an increasingly important outcome measure. According to the European Science Foundation, “Medical imaging plays a central role in the global healthcare system as it contributes to improved patient outcome and more cost-efficient healthcare in all major disease entities.” Medical imaging has many benefits and as it continues to be improved upon its importance continues to rise in the industry. It can be used for many things and sometimes having proper medical imaging can prevent an unnecessary surgery.