ORLANDO, Fla. — The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is calling on healthcare stakeholders across the globe to rethink how patient safety is currently measured.
During its 31st annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care, IHI released eight principles on improving patient safety measurement intended for policymakers, healthcare leaders and researchers. IHI partnered with the Austria-based not-for-profit Salzburg Global Seminar and worked with healthcare leaders from across the world to establish the eight principles.
The principles, which include a call for measures to take into account continuum of care and for data to be collected in real time, were released in response to longstanding concerns across the industry that patient safety measures currently in use aren't entirely meaningful to clinicians or patients.
"Safety measurement has had challenges over the last 20 years, some of which is around the fact that we focused on inpatient harm," said Dr. Tejal Gandhi, chief clinical and safety officer at IHI. "You'd be hard pressed to find a measure of safety in primary care that is used by anyone in a rigorous way."
While IHI only released the eight principles, a comprehensive report will be published next year that explains how stakeholders can "operationalize (the) principles," Gandhi said.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality participated in the meeting in September discussing the principles. Gandhi said IHI plans on engaging other U.S. federal agencies to get more momentum around the effort.
In addition to needing more measures in outpatient and home care settings, Gandhi added there may be opportunities for measurement to be predictive of when a patient may be vulnerable to harm, allowing the healthcare system to potentially prevent negative outcomes. The use of electronic health records may allow for this work, she said.
"(Measurement) is very reactive, meaning we measure harm and then we try to figure out what went wrong to prevent the next harm," she said. "Can we get more upstream and start to measure risk so we can actually intervene before the harm occurs? In addition to measuring harm, we should be measuring risk and getting more proactive and hopefully prevent the harm before it occurs."