ross d. martin
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Sunday, February 26, 2006
Your Are What You Measure

I keep trying to distill some common truths about the work many of us are doing on transforming healthcare through information technology. A lot of the drivers for employing HIT come down to this: You are what You Measure. If you've read Freakonomics, you know that introducing measurements into a system can significantly affect that system and you tend to get changes that optimize those measures, but those measures may not necessarily get you what you want.

Measure test scores for kids a la No Child Left Behind and you get improved test scores, but not necessarily kids who are more prepared for success in life. You can also get more teacher cheating to ensure that the test scores are better - sometimes to the detriment of the kids themselves.

We're experiencing the same thing in healthcare. Right now, we get high-cost, inefficient, and only partly effective healthcare because we measure (and pay for) activities over outcomes and outcomes over process improvement. We should be targeting measures that ensure we are constantly working toward process improvement. That's the goal! More later.

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