It's said you can't manage what you can't measure, and nowhere is that more true than in today's rapidly changing health care environment.

The following 7 developments from the past month highlight the importance of measuring performance in order to improve it.

Health Information Technology

23% of U.S. hospitals can perform all four tasks that define what it means to be truly interoperable.

According to an interoperability report (PDF, 1.7 MB) from HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology the four activities inherent to interoperability are the ability to find, send, receive and use patient information electronically from non-affiliated providers. Hospitals cited an exchange partner's inability to receive data as the biggest technical barrier to interoperability. The highest operational hurdle was cumbersome EHR workflows used to send data.

The Takeaway: The report is a roadmap for EHR vendors and users to collectively follow to remove those barriers and dramatically improve that percentage.

20% of hospitals are actively looking to replace their EHR systems.

Market research firm peer60 uncovered in a survey of 277 hospitals that nearly 20 percent are actively looking to replace their EHR systems. The top two reasons cited were usability and missing functionality. Nothing complicated here.

The Takeaway: EHR systems must be capable of electronically sharing patient information among providers and must make it easy for providers to use that capability.

Patient Safety

37,000 lives could be saved by slowing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Fighting the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like C. difficile and CRE from one health care facility to another will require a coordinated approach involving all health care stakeholders. Such a coordinated approach, led by state and local public health departments, could prevent 619,000 infections and save 37,000 lives over five years, according to an action plan released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plan outlines the coordinated steps the federal government, state and local health departments, health care facility CEOs and administrators, prescribers, health care staff and patients and their families can take to work together to combat the growing risk to patient safety.

The Takeaway: Once again, data-fueled coordination -- not data-siloed independence --is the solution to an ongoing health care challenge.

2,666 hospitals will have Medicare payments reduced in fiscal 2016.

This is because their 30-day, all-cause readmission rates were too high. In its final inpatient PPS payment regulations for fiscal 2016, CMS said the payment reduction to the 2,666 hospitals will total $420 million (PDF, 7.5 MB).

The Takeaway: The fastest way to improve your institutions' financial health is by executing strategies that improve their institutions' clinical performance.

Population Health

85.4% of hospitals described themselves as strongly committed to population health.

According to a survey of more than 1,400 hospitals by the American Hospital Association (PDF, 3 MB) and three other community or public health organizations, these hospitals are demonstrating that commitment with leadership and manpower. Some 80.1 percent said executive or senior managers are overseeing their population health programs. And, 45.3 percent of the large hospitals surveyed said they are devoting 10 or more full-time equivalent positions to population health.

The Takeaway: The results indicate that hospitals have recognized that their business health will depend on the overall health status of the patients in their communities.

18.8% of adults report their health status as fair or poor.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That's a marginal improvement over the 19.8 percent who described their health status as fair or poor a year earlier.

The Takeaway: Providers and payers clearly have a tremendous opportunity to leverage their population health programs to improve the nation's overall health status.


2,115 providers have signed-on to Medicare's Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Initiative.

The 2-year-old initiative set up four voluntary bundled-payment models for episodes of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Three of the models had preliminary phases during which providers could build their care models, clinical teams and data infrastructures. CMS said 2,115 providers have moved on to phase two in which they accept the clinical and financial risk under their particular model. Some 360 providers entered into BPCII contracts with Medicare with 1,755 provider subcontractors working with them on their various care models. This is more than a test of whether bundled-payment arrangements work.

The Takeaway: It's a test of whether health care providers of different types can coordinate the care of a given set of patients that results in better outcomes at lower costs.

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