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Why Healthcare Quality Metrics are Worthless

Daniel Paull M.D. explains that what is easy to measure isn't always important, and what is important isn't always easy to measure.

July 9, 2022

Not everything that you can measure is important, and not everything important is measurable.

Sometimes the easiest things to measure are the least important.

The other issue is knowing what is important and what’s not.

 

In healthcare, the data that is easy to get is normally pretty worthless except in cases of outliers.

Data is helpful for internal quality control not tied to reimbursements.

Let’s say that there are a lot of spine surgery infections.

Data will allow you to possibly pinpoint the culprit, whether that be the surgeon or improper equipment sterilization procedures.

This is a good thing.

 

In healthcare, the data that is easy to get is normally pretty worthless except in cases of outliers. Click To Tweet

 

Healthcare data becomes very unhelpful when you try to find “quality” and then tie that to reimbursements.

Maybe the doctor with the higher infection rate is also treating the most complicated patients.

Maybe the doctor with the lower infection rate only does chip shot surgeries that don’t very often get infected.

Maybe the internist whose patients have higher A1C levels and blood pressure are from a much sicker population.

Analyzing this data based on metrics is not only worthless, it can harm physicians who are doing the right thing.

Once you tie this to payments, then the system will be perversely gained. Sicker patients will suffer.

 

Analyzing this data based on metrics is not only worthless, it can harm physicians who are doing the right thing. Once you tie this to payments, then the system will be perversely gained. Sicker patients will suffer. Click To Tweet

 

Many don’t like that there is no easy way to measure quality in healthcare.

But there is an easy way.

Ask any physician or patient who a good doctor is and they will tell you.

Human interaction captures the intangibles that metrics won’t.

Can you measure this? Probably as well as you can measure a good restaurant.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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