Thousands of measures are in use today to assess health and health care in the United States. Although many of these measures provide useful information, their sheer number, as well as their lack of focus, consistency, and organization, limits their overall effectiveness in improving performance of the health system. To achieve better health at lower cost, all stakeholders—including health professionals, payers, policy makers, and members of the public—must be alert to the measures that matter most. What are the core measures that will yield the clearest understanding and focus on better health and well-being for Americans?
With support from the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Healthcare Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a committee to identify core measures for health and health care. In VITAL SIGNS: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress, the committee proposes a streamlined set of 15 standardized measures, with recommendations for their application at every level and across sectors. Ultimately, the committee concludes that this streamlined set of measures could provide consistent benchmarks for health progress across the nation and improve system performance in the highest-priority areas.
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