In 1605 William Camden wrote “All the proofe of a pudding, is in the eating,” which today is better known as “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” We all use this proverb quite often because we learned through experience that in some cases “Nothing weights lighter than a promise.” And for the record, that’s an old German Proverb.
Measuring outcomes has been a promising concept as part of improving the health of patients. Though it is not as new as it seems. King Hammurabi of Babylon incorporated the practice of “Objective outcome measurement standards to assure quality of care” in his list of managed care precepts written on clay tablets in 1700 B.C.
In the modern world, this concept took off after the release of the book “Redefining Healthcare” by Michael Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg. In that book, they lay the foundation for Value-based Healthcare. One component of Value Based Healthcare is the rigorous measurement of outcomes throughout the healthcare process. In a 2006 Harvard Business Review article, Michael Porter states : “Wherever we see systematic measurement of results in health care we see those results improve.” But is that really the case?
In the last couple of years, there have been many great initiatives around measuring outcomes in healthcare around the globe, for example: The NHS Outcomes Framework in the UK, Routine Outcome Monitoring within behavioral health in the Netherlands, the Swedish National Quality Registers, and the Te Pou outcomes project in New Zealand. These impressive national initiatives around measuring and reporting outcomes delivered many new insights.
ICHOM standard sets
The International Consortium for Health Outcomes (ICHOM) has a promising global initiative underway. ICHOM aims to provide standard measurement sets for diseases that combined, account for 70% of the global disease burden. ICHOM is working to implement Value Based Care within hospitals around the globe by enabling measurement, evaluation, benchmarking, and learning from each other with one goal in mind: “Delivering the best possible health outcomes at the lowest possible cost.”
The real proof of the pudding, or in this case, “Does measuring outcomes really impact and improve the lives of patients?”, was never scientifically delivered, though local outcomes initiatives demonstrated results. Recently, a group of doctors and researchers published a study that showed that the incorporation of Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) within the care process of cancer patients resulted in increased survival. One of the main reasons was that nurses and physicians could respond to symptom alerts reported by the patient. This is a great outcome – one – that matters for the patient.
The eating of the pudding has resulted in a positive verdict. The outcomes pudding seems to be pretty impressive. This should encourage other healthcare organizations to incorporate PROs as part of their care processes and as part of their Value Based Healthcare strategies. It improves outcomes that matter for the patient, and isn’t that what healthcare is all about?