Why measure outcomes? | ICHOM – International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement

Why measure outcomes?

Why measure outcomes?

Provider organizations understand that, without a change in their model of doing business, they can only hope to be the last iceberg to melt. Facing lower payment rates and potential loss of market share, they have no choice but to improve value and be able to ‘prove it.’

M. Porter and T. Lee, “The Strategy that will Fix Health Care,” HBR

Measuring the ICHOM Standard Sets means measuring the results of treatment that patients experience. We believe that this is not only a moral imperative. It also unites clinicians around what matters most: the outcomes of the care we deliver. For providers, measuring our Standard Sets serves four overlapping purposes: learning, improving performance, demonstrating superior performance, and enabling value-based payment.


To measure is to learn, and learning has both a local and an international dimension. Within individual facilities, practices, and provider organizations, clinicians can learn from the outcomes data they gather, improving the lives of their own patients and their colleagues’ patients. At the same time, data derived from standard, internationally-accepted metrics allow care teams across geographies to learn from one another. Measuring and reporting outcomes data allows caregivers from Chicago to Sheffield, from Dublin to Dubai, from Tel Aviv to Tokyo, to evaluate their work using the universal “language” of health outcomes.

All five of us are very good at what we do, but we all do it differently. At least four of us must be doing it wrong.

Cardiac surgeon, Mayo Clinic

Improve performance

Clinicians’ central goal is to help their patients: to cure their illnesses, ease their discomfort, and help them manage their health over time. Doing this more effectively and efficiently requires outcomes data.

More than ever, clinical leadership, governments, and others know that they must deliver high-quality care efficiently. Managing costs without sacrificing quality is possible, but not when stakeholders are blind to the impact of their decisions. Outcomes data removes the blindfold and shines light on the results of procedures, processes, structures, and systems.

Our initiative [that] focused on outcomes delivered better results than any initiative we’ve tried before.

Barbro Friden, CEO of Sahlgrenska University Hospital

Demonstrate superior outcomes

Today, hospital rankings are based primarily on basic clinical indicators, such as mortality and infection rates, and on reputation. We believe these indicators don’t capture the full picture. What matters most are the outcomes that patients experience.

Hospitals that can demonstrate superior outcomes on certain conditions will attract patients, earn respect, and become leaders among their peers. At the same time, less successful hospitals will know what the best outcomes are and will strive toward them.

The fact that we can prove we are leading learning hospitals is a unique selling point for patients and payers.

Leonique Niessen, Director of Santeon

Prepare for value-based payment

Payers want to know that they are paying for the right treatments at the right time and that that care is being delivered efficiently. They also want to be able to point patients toward the providers that offer the greatest value.

As a result, public and private payers alike are transitioning toward value-based reimbursement. The ICHOM Standard Sets allow not only to measure the immediate outcomes achieved but also the appropriateness of care and the long term effects on what really matters to patients

Providers, by adopting the ICHOM Standard Sets now, are anticipating the value-based purchasing revolution.

We have set up the first payment model in history of NHS that truly pays for the results that matter most to patients.

Diane Bell, NHS England Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group