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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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What sorts of metrics assess quality improvement?

A quality metric allows a user to quantify the quality of a selected aspect of care by comparing it to a criterion.  There are different types of quality metrics:

  • Access measure - assesses the patient's ability to obtain timely and appropriate health care.
  • Outcome measure - is the patient's health status after receiving health care services.  It can be used to evaluate the quality of care to the extent that health care services influence the likelihood of desired health outcomes.
  • Patient experience measure - aggregates reports of patients about their observations of and participation in health care.
  • Process measure - assesses the actual health care service provided to, or on behalf of, a patient. 
  • Structure measure - describes a feature of a health care organization or clinician relevant to its capacity to provide health care (e.g., nurse to patient ratio, number of beds).

In addition, the cost of care, efficiency of care and value of care are measures that can inform decision-makers regarding performance.  Each metric helps provide a more complete picture of the health care quality status of an organization.


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