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Facts about accountability measures

September 10, 2015

The Joint Commission categorizes its process performance measures into accountability and non-accountability measures. This approach places more emphasis on an organization’s performance on accountability measures – quality measures that meet four criteria designed to identify measures that produce the greatest positive impact on patient outcomes when hospitals demonstrate improvement:

Research: Strong scientific evidence demonstrates that performing the evidence-based care process improves health outcomes (either directly or by reducing risk of adverse outcomes).

Proximity: Performing the care process is closely connected to the patient outcome; there are relatively few clinical processes that occur after the one that is measured and before the improved outcome occurs.

Accuracy: The measure accurately assesses whether or not the care process has actually been provided. That is, the measure should be capable of indicating whether the process has been delivered with sufficient effectiveness to make improved outcomes likely.

Adverse Effects: Implementing the measure has little or no chance of inducing unintended adverse consequences.

Measures that meet all four criteria should be used for purposes of accountability (e.g., for accreditation, public reporting, or pay-for-performance). Those measures that have not been designated as accountability measures may be useful for quality improvement, exploration and learning within individual health care organizations, and are good advice in terms of appropriate patient care. The Joint Commission has a primary focus on adopting accountability measures for its ORYX program. The Joint Commission will continue to re-examine all process (i.e., proportion and ratio) measures categorized as accountability measures to ensure they continue to meet the accountability criteria.

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