Segment 1: Why Do We Measure Healthcare Quality?

A provider, a payer, and an expert from an organization that endorses quality measures in healthcare participated in a panel discussion on measuring the quality of care in oncology.

Linda Bosserman, MD, assistant clinical professor and staff physician, City of Hope; Jason C. Goldwater, MA, MPA, senior director, National Quality Forum; and Jennifer Malin, MD, staff vice president, Clinical Strategy, Anthem, came together in a panel discussion regarding the importance of quality measures, both in medicine and oncology specifically. Quality measures, the panelists agreed, are important resources that inspire improvement.

On a broader scale, Dr Malin explained that measuring quality is a necessary step for improvement and advancement in any industry. Understanding and reflecting upon what the company has done is key in being able to figure out what areas need improvement. According to Dr Malin, healthcare is no different.

“I think in most other industries, it would be a given that in order to improve your processes, you need to know what you’re doing today and to figure out if there’s a way to improve,” Dr Malin said. “And the same is true in healthcare. We may have come a little late to the party, but for many, many years, hundreds of years, we’ve done things in healthcare without really knowing [whether] we are doing it systematically—the right way or the wrong way.”

Dr Bosserman, who has worked in developing a medical home pilot program at City of Hope, added that improving quality in oncology begins when the company or organization itself measures its own successes and shortcomings. Only when the establishment understands what they’ve produced and the following outcomes can improvements be made for the future. In essence, measures are a means of reflection, a key ingredient in ensuring quality for all participating stakeholders.

“When we measure things, it’s that reality of what are we actually delivering, what do we know about it, and whether we can keep improving it,” Dr Bosserman said. “Without those facts, then we’re just thinking about things.”