Using data to measure quality in hospitals

ZPB’s COO Alex Kafetz spoke yesterday at The British Healthcare Business Intelligence Association’s annual conference about different ways to measure the performance of healthcare organisations.

Alex knows a thing or two about healthcare data, having formerly worked for the health regulator the Healthcare Commission and at data company Dr Foster, and at ZPB he works closely with health sector clients to analyse and publish outcomes data.

Speaking to an audience of healthcare analysts mainly working in the pharmaceutical industry, Alex delivered a whistle-stop tour of some of the challenges and skills needed to try and measure quality in hospitals.

This included the struggle to define meaningful outcomes, how statistical thresholds can effect measurement, whether the Bristol scandal and killer GP Harold Shipman could have been prevented through data analysis and why what is important to surgeons isn’t necessarily what is important to patients and citizens. The session also included examples of ZPB’s unique way of using published data to help target sales resource and generate ROI.

Discussion after the presentation focussed on whether the audience thought hospitals were still be secretive about poor data and also whether people believed there was a genuine desire to focus on outcomes not processes – there was some scepticism of this. 

Alex said: “It’s about measuring what’s right, rather than what’s easy. A patient might judge the success of an operation on whether they can return to a normal life afterwards – this won’t necessarily be how a surgeon might measure the success of the operation.”