What are Clinical Outcomes?
A clinical outcome is an overall change in the health of a population, individual or specific group of people that is the result of an intervention. These outcome measures are what healthcare organizations are perpetually trying to improve upon to increase both the quality and the cost of healthcare.
What is the Triple Aim of Healthcare?
The purpose of measuring these outcomes is to ultimately achieve what is termed the triple aim of healthcare. The triple aim of healthcare involves the improvement of the overall health of individuals and populations by:
- Improving the patient’s care experience
- Improving the overall health of populations
- Improving overall reduction in the cost per person of health care services
Not only are clinical outcome measures essential to achieve the triple aim of healthcare, but it is also an important way to test the various interventions and evoke positive changes in the health of a population. Reasons that healthcare systems may stress the importance of measuring outcomes include:
- Determining where interventions will have the most benefit
- Producing evidentiary support for which interventions will best work for particular patients
- Providing a comparison for which interventions are most effective
- Identifying different areas and variations of care
There are many outcome measures that health care facilities and systems look for when determining which interventions are improving the quality of healthcare. These findings can be reported by doctors who are treating patients, hospitals, and clinics, and even patient reported outcomes. Some of the most common outcome measures in the current healthcare system are:
The mortality rate is one of the most important measures of the health of a population. The longer the expected age of life is the better the health the population has.
Patient experience is a patient reported outcome measure where the patient gives the overall experience and perception of the health care that they receive and services that are available to them. This is an excellent way to measure patient satisfaction and is often reported through the use of patient surveys.
Rate of Readmission
Since readmission after a hospital discharge is often preventable if proper measures are taken, measuring the readmission rate is a way to measure the outcome of hospital policies and procedures when it comes to discharging patients. For example, the MultiCare Health System reduced the amount on pneumonia hospital readmissions by providing better patient follow-ups by assigning social workers and using analytics to get real-time feedback on compliance such as maintaining required medication.
The Most Efficient Use of Medical Imaging
Using imaging technology efficiently is essential to outcome measures because its use plays a significant role in improved patient outcomes. Additionally, unnecessary use of medical imaging can lead to higher health care costs without having a benefit to the patient. Systems can be put in place to determine best practices for ordering medical imaging.
Effectiveness of Care
To measure the effectiveness of care, it is necessary to evaluate compliance with best practice care guidelines as well as achieved outcomes. To ensure the best outcomes for patients and to keep the costs of healthcare facilities down, it is important to measure compliance with care guidelines since failure to adhere to best practices can result in negative consequences for both the facilities and the patients.
Safety of Care
Measuring the safety of care outcomes in a hospital or facility primarily pertains to measuring their medical mistakes. Two of the primary outcome safety of care measures include skin breakdown and HAIs. Skin breakdowns occur when the blood flow in the skin experiences a decrease in pressure. This can result in making the patient at a higher risk to acquire an infection. This outcome also measures HAIs which are bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens that can infect a patient causing additional adverse outcomes.
Clinical outcome measures are an important part of maintaining the overall health of the general population. Without these measures, it would be hard for hospitals and facilities to determine which interventions are not only essential to providing reduced costs for health care but also which ones provide the most improvement for the patients.
Personal Health and Outcome Measures
All of us know that we are unique in many ways and similar in others. This is quite easily seen and stated when it comes to topics of obesity, and overall health issues. For example, there are people that are extremely overweight, yet have no problems with cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes. However, there are individuals that run marathons but have an issue with hypertension. If doctors were able to create a medicine that was able to target exactly what was wrong within an individual person, such as the body’s ability to produce insulin, or to lose weight, many people would benefit greatly both in the short- and long-term with their health. These so-called magic pills are controversial in the fact that many people would use them and continue with poor health habits and behaviors, but the concept of being able to live better is quite ideal to most everyone. It may surprise some that a magic pill isn’t so much a reality as something more along the lines of a personalized diet that focuses on foods that would be most beneficial while knowing exactly what to avoid.
Examples of precision medicines and medical care are somewhat on the cutting edge of being a reality, but scientists have to start somewhere and shoot for the stars. As more information is gathered and understood about the human body and DNA mapping, the possibilities listed above will only be the tip of the iceberg of promises. More than anything, precision medicine is the look at ways to improve healthcare and the hope for being able to help everyone to live longer, have a better quality of life and to have infinite potential to do what they would like.