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Learning to Leverage Existing Information Systems: Part 2. Case Studies

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Background: The ability to use available administrative and clinical information to produce performance reports is a key element of quality improvement. Six health care systems were identified that have done a particularly effective or innovative job of creating and implementing performance measurement tools and systems by using data available in existing clinical and administrative information systems: Dean Health System (Madison, WI), Sharp HealthCare (San Diego), Henry Ford Health System (Detroit), Scripps Health (San Diego), Legacy Health System (Portland, OR), and Lovelace Health System (Albuquerque).

Summary Thoughts: Interest in comparative performance information for health care organizations remains strong. The perfect measure set has not yet been invented. Every measure has one or more flaws, as do the data systems available to support them. Managers may take comfort, however, in the knowledge that performance measures need not be perfect to be useful. Measures tend to improve when people use the data to inform decisions that matter. Even the most accurate data, though, are not useful if there is either too much or too little "organizational distance" between the unit of analysis for the data and the unit of control for making change. Some systems have adopted a layered approach to performance measurement, in which measures are aggregated for reporting and use at the level of major operating units or divisions and then disaggregated for reporting and use at smaller levels and eventually to the level of individual clinicians.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2003

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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