The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released a report Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress generated from a committee that convened to identify which measures used to evaluate health and health care progress in the United States are the most meaningful towards assessing better health and well-being for Americans.

The report indicates, while health measurements are valuable in providing data to assess patient experience, system performance, health care quality and more, the lack of standardization in methodology and approach often prevent broader comparisons. The committee convened by the IOM identified 15 core metrics for health and health care progress and corresponding applications in order to improve efficiencies and ensure a focus on system capacity and effectiveness.

The 15 Core Measure Set:

  1. Life Expectancy: As life expectancy incorporates health from both individual and community (cancer vs. homicide), it can be an effective, high-level measure for health.
  2. Well-Being: Self-reported levels of well-being often reflect satisfaction with the current health care system.
  3. Overweight and obesity: Obesity often reflects numerous socioeconomic, cultural, political, and lifestyle factors.
  4. Addictive behavior: Substance abuse represents a complex problem for both the communities and the individuals.
  5. Unintended pregnancy: Unintended pregnancy may often reflect a woman’s lack of access to family planning resources and brings together numerous social, behavioral and health factors.
  6. Healthy communities: A community’s ability to thrive economically, represented by factors such as housing and employment, is a critical measure of health progress.
  7. Preventative services: The prevalence of preventative services is key to improving health while reducing costs for individuals.
  8. Care access: Lack of health insurance and other factors that hinder an individual’s access to care prevent a high quality health system.
  9. Patient safety: A health system that evaluates organizational results to ensure patient safety and prevent adverse outcomes is a necessity.
  10. Evidence-based care: The health system must ensure that all individuals receive the care that is recommended based on certain predispositions or other scientific evidence.
  11. Care match with patient goals: An individual’s goals and beliefs should be taken into consideration and emphasized in the care process.
  12. Personal spending burden: There is a large disparity between cost and quality of care in the U.S. that often limits, delays, or diverts an individual’s access to care.
  13. Population spending burden: The high cost of health spending on the national level may prevent government assistance in other areas that would have a positive impact on the health system, such as social services and education.
  14. Individual engagement: Personal choices that influence health (including diet and lifestyle) have important implications on the individuals care.
  15. Community engagement: The availability and utilization of resources available within the community is essential to support efforts to maintain and improve an individual’s engagement with the health system.

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The report also indicates 6 critical factors for success including, leadership, strategy, incentives alignment, infrastructure, culture, and continuous learning.

The IOM concludes, “The set of core measures proposed by the committee is a tool for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of measurement. Ultimately, widespread application of a limited set of standardized measures could not only reduce the burden of unnecessary measurement but also align the incentives and actions of multiple organizations at multiple levels.”

Watch the report release video below

IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2015. Vital signs: Core metrics for health and health care progress. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.