What gets measured gets done

“What gets measured gets done” (or it’s close cousin “What gets measured gets funded”) is a popular refrain for performance management aficionados.  That is why I am very impressed – at least by what I read in a news report – that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota plans to release a doctor rating system to consumers.

The system seems far from flawless at this stage.  It selects certain healthcare quality benchmarks for selected health conditions.  It does not measure intangibles such as bedside manner.  And, it does not appear to account for geographic location, age of facilities, average income, or demographic variables that play large roles in the overall continuum of health care.  Nonetheless, providers are largely treating this as a good thing.  Officials at Essentia Health and Sanford Health had postive things to say about accountability in health care.

How often do we excuse ourselves or our programs from quality performance measurement.  Who has not heard (or used) the mantra “You just cannot measure what we do.”  Or, “people don’t understand what we do.” Or, “you can’t compare us to other places because (insert excuse here).”

Too often we let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Some refuse to implement a measurement program if we do not have flawless input and output measures, with perfect comparisons and indepenent verification every possible variable.

I applaud Blue Cross’s initiative, imperfect as it may be.  I especially applaud the providers who rise to the challenge of public measurement and scrutiny even under less than perfect conditions.

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