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
Why Measure Outcomes?
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 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 of 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 the 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.
Clinical Outcomes and Precision Medicine
Without a doubt, the advances in the medical community are some of the most exciting and promising for the future of all of us. One of the areas that are making huge inroads and gaining both recognition and notoriety is precision medicine. This is due to the progress in understanding the human genome and understanding how answers to health questions can be found within. Precision medicine is quite new to the healthcare game and is not even begun to hit its fullest potential because genes have not been fully mapped or figured out.
However, successes in precision medicine examples are beginning to be seen more widely and are starting to contribute to clinical outcomes. For example on the science of replacing tissue in the body. There have been reports in the news talking about the progress in being able to regrow tissue in a lab, and some of that going to benefit a few select people.
The hope is to be able to replace anything that is ailing, failing or lost, using a person’s own stem cells, so as to avoid rejection or any other problem from arising. This would allow damaged heart tissue to be replaced, cartilage or nerves to regenerate in a back injury or even to replace a limb lost to an accident. Most of this isn’t possible yet, but scientists are working to find ways to make this possible and to do it as quickly as possible.