Measuring and Improving Patient Outcomes


Larkin Community Hospital (LCH), in which I currently work, is a for-profit organization accredited by the Joint Commission. LCH is situated in Miami-Date County. The hospital is physician-owned and currently employs 895 people (Cedar Lake Ventures, 2015). The status of one of the best medical units in the state of Florida and the whole country makes it crucial for the hospital to introduce innovative and effective methods of measuring patient outcomes.

Outcome Measurement

An outcome measure can be defined as a change in individual, community, or population health that comes as a result of a particular health care intervention or a number of subsequent interventions (Jette, Halbert, Iverson, Miceli, & Shah, 2016). There are several most widely accepted metrics of patient outcomes and satisfaction (also implemented at LCH): mortality rates, patient experience, rate of readmissions, etc.). In my practicum setting this list looks as follows:

  • Mortality. This measure is important since it allows seeing how the patient’s life is prolonged by particular interventions.
  • Readmissions. Since readmission indicates that treatment was unsuccessful, it can considerably reduce patient satisfaction. Moreover, it is typically connected with high costs both for the patient and the hospital. That is why this metric is regarded as one of the key outcome characteristics at LHC.
  • Safety of care. Same as readmissions, the lack of safety pertains to medical errors. At LHC, we measure the statistics of hospital-acquired infections, skin breakdown, and other safety-related problems (Park & Skopit, 2016).
  • Patient experience. Patient-reported experience allows assessing his/her perspective on the received care.
  • Effectiveness of care. At LHC, there are two major components of effectiveness: achieved outcomes and compliance with best practice guidelines.
  • Timeliness of care. This relates to the patient’s access to health care that allowed or did not allow providing him/her with timely care (e.g. the number of patients who were delivered to the hospital too late).
  • Cost effectiveness. Since every mistake is rather costly for the hospital and its patients, LHC measures preventable and non-preventable expenses to develop strategies that would make it possible to cut them in the future.

Data Collection Process

The indicated data are collected by nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and nurse administrators depending on the metrics. The collection typically occurs during the process of treatment (to see whether the patient is satisfied with the level of care and safety provided) and post factum, when the patient is to be discharged (to assess his/her actual outcomes). Statistical data (mortality, readmissions, timeliness or care, etc.) are reflected in monthly and annual reports.

As far as the procedure is concerned, a typically implemented practice is to hand out questionnaires to patients. The most frequently used ones at LCH include: health status, symptoms and other aspects of patient well-being, quality of life, ratings of health care, functioning, health-related quality of life, etc. Then, these questionnaires are analyzed by nurses and physicians to estimate the level of patient satisfaction. In order to assess objective outcomes of treatment, biological materials are collected and sent to laboratories. Ambulatory medical records are also reviewed and evaluated to make evidence-based conclusions as per the patient’s well-being.

Data Collection Frequency

Frequency depends on the type of data collection procedure and a particular patient. For instance, biological materials are collected when the patient is admitted. However, in the course of treatment, these procedures may be repeated. Questionnaires are handed out once (upon discharge) or twice (in the course of treatment if the patient stays in hospital for a long time). Statistical data is collected once a month for reports.

Sharing Process

The data on patient satisfaction and outcomes are usually shared during team meetings or conferences. Moreover, some important statistical reports may be sent by email. Presentations are organized once a month to disseminate findings that may improve patient outcomes.

References

Cedar Lake Ventures. (2015). Overview of Miami-Dade county, Florida. Web.

Jette, D. U., Halbert, J., Iverson, C., Miceli, E., & Shah, P. (2016). Use of standardized outcome measures in physical therapist practice: Perceptions and applications. Physical Therapy, 89(2), 125-135.

Park, H., & Skopit, S. (2016). Safety considerations and monitoring in patients treated with systemic medications for acne. Dermatologic Clinics, 34(2), 185-193.