In the healthcare industry, key performance indicators (KPIs) are an integral tool for measuring quality. According to a study released by BioMed Central, establishing quality performance indicators has become increasingly important for hospitals and members of the healthcare profession. In the study, researchers found that many hospitals aren’t using KPIs to their fullest advantage, potentially cutting into opportunities for performance improvement.
Data Collection is a Balancing Act
BioMed found that it was easy for hospital quality managers to make assumptions about quality without exploring the data. In certain cases, surgeons and doctors didn’t find it necessary to formally record hospital KPIs because they already knew what the results would be. In some instances, however, research showed that these assumptions weren’t always right.
One quality manager, for example, estimated that his/her hospital had a 100% score for pre-surgery antibiotics. However, when the hospital actually tracked this metric, they found the actual percentage of antibiotics before surgery was 50%. Once they realized this, the hospital worked to implement an improvement strategy and was able to increase the score to 90%.
It’s no secret that data collection is valuable, but from the perspective of a health professional, every minute spent organizing and analyzing data is time that could – or should – have been spent helping patients. Because of this, hospitals are more inclined to focus on the immediate demands of their patients than the long-term benefits of data collection. The result: More patients receive the medical attention they needed, but medical records tend to be not as complete as they could be.
What KPIs Should Hospitals Watch?
In its study, BioMed concluded that executives and quality control managers should take the time to build effective quality standards and measure them using quality performance indicators for hospitals. With so many factors contributing to the quality of each hospital, it’s important to know where to start.
Some basic healthcare/hospital KPIs are:
- Patient satisfaction
- Death rate
- Medication errors
- Admission/discharge wait times
- Admission rates
- Readmission rates
- Patient referrals
Read next: Curing Data Challenges in Healthcare
Patient Satisfaction is More Important Than You Think
For businesses, it’s easy to see why customer satisfaction is imperative. Happy customers become recurring customers; happy customers talk to their friends; happy customers are the lifeblood of the business.
For a hospital, though, the idea of “customer satisfaction” is completely different. Is it more important to provide exceptional care or make sure a given patient enjoys his or her meal? Is maximizing patient satisfaction (where the patient is the “customer”) as important as decreasing oversights and errors? The answer might surprise you, and here’s why:
Patient satisfaction is closely linked to a hospital’s level of organization and efficiency. If a patient rates his/her experience as “dissatisfactory,” chances are he/she experienced an unappetizing meal, a long wait time, or impatient staff members. While mediocre food or a grumpy bedside manner may not be as important as preventing a medication error, virtually any factor or experience than turns a patient into a dissatisfied customer points at the same potential problems:
Unfortunately, problems like understaffing and disorganization are all too common in hospitals. Last year, Scientific American published a story that brought some of these issues to light. Specifically stating that understaffed hospitals were more likely to experience problems with quality control. What does this mean? Even “less important” KPIs – like the percentage of quality meals given to patients – play a major role in healthcare KPI development and can uncover more serious issues.
Data Reporting for Healthcare Professionals
iDashboards Enterprise Reporting offers leading-edge reporting for hospitals. Using data visualization, we can help healthcare professionals identify the right KPIs, track them, and organize them in a logical, coherent, and useful way. By tracking even the simplest data points, hospitals can identify problem areas, create plans to fix them, and improve the overall quality of the care they provide.