Ten Ways to Improve the Board's Use of Quality Measures

By Elaine Zablocki

Hospital and health system boards are being overwhelmed by hundreds of quality indicators from numerous sources. Many are required or linked to payment incentives, but some are part of voluntary improvement programs. Amidst the deluge of numbers, leaders could miss valuable, potentially actionable information.

Christine Goeschel, RN, director of patient safety and quality initiatives at the Quality and Safety Research Group at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is completing a doctoral thesis on the role of hospital boards in improving quality and safety. “Boards are often handed a template or scorecard that lists hospital performance on many externally determined measures of care,” she finds. “While those measures are in fact important, often there aren’t sufficient resources to focus on all of them.

My colleagues and I are concerned that while pursuing quality and patient safety the industry has tended to go a mile wide and an inch deep.” “Both governance and management have to focus on the vital few,” says Maulik S. Joshi, DrPH, president of the Health Research and Educational Trust (an affiliate of the American Hospital Association). “Monitor the few measures that are most important to your organizational performance, where you have the greatest level of accountability, of leverage, of the ability to improve. In some cases the data may be limited, and the measures may be imperfect, but we can still use that data to look at where we are, and where we want to be.”

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