Tips for Designing, Finding and Creating Metrics
Don’t be confused: When people at KP talk about metrics, they’re not referring to centimeters instead of inches. “Metrics” here means “measurement.”
And, says Eric Tom, LMP program manager in Hawaii, “Complex metrics can often be broken down into a few simple metrics.”
Whatever your team does, remember to take note of where you started.
“I try to get teams to find a baseline,” says Priscilla Kania, senior LMP consultant at Riverside Medical Center. “For example, simply ask, ‘Yes or no, did your nurse show care and concern?’ Then you might ask, ‘What could we have done to make your experience better?’ Then you take some of the ideas that patients give you and create some tests of change.”
Tom, Kania and Natalie Ines White, a performance improvement adviser for UBTs in Georgia, offer these tips on how to help teams use metrics.
1. How consultants and advisers can help their teams understand and use metrics
- Make sure teams have access to metrics.
- Ask questions to help them understand these metrics.
- Steer teams toward simple and easy-to-use metrics.
- Coach teams on how to collect and track data.
- Help teams think through what they need before they jump into gathering data.
- Help teams understand the data source, data collection methodology and development of the performance metrics.
- Make sure teams can chart data over time and use run charts and statistical process-control charts.
2. How teams can avoid trying to “make their numbers” rather than truly improve a process
- Revisit the three fundamental questions from RIM:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- How will we know that change is an improvement?
- What change can we make that will result in improvement?
- Use automated or electronic data sources that independently measure performance; reduce or minimize manual data capture.
- If collecting data manually, create a data collection tool/template with detailed directions.
- Have a plan (i.e., number of records/patients; frequency: daily or weekly, etc.).
- Incorporate balancing measures to ensure systematic changes do not produce unintended negative effects.
- Validate performance results.
- Conduct random data audits.
- Remember that fewer meaningful metrics are better than more metrics that aren’t focused; choose quality over quantity.
- If data is available in KP HealthConnect, partner with an analyst to have the data pulled automatically instead of extracting it manually.
3. How teams can avoid biased or slanted measurements that don’t provide an accurate representation of the real world
- Team members should be able to define and explain SMART goals.
- Teams should review goals with sponsors.
- When using existing reports, understand the definition of the measures and what gets included and excluded.
- Understand how the patient population is defined and measured.
Special thanks to Eric Tom, Priscilla Kania and Natalie Ines White.
Download a PDF tool with the information in this story, and read a companion story from the Fall 2011 issue of Hank on what to do when your team needs to come up with good metrics.