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Health Care Measurements that Improve Patient Outcomes

Published January 20, 2021
NEJM Catal Innov Care Deliv 2021;2(2)
DOI: 10.1056/CAT.20.0527


This article describes the challenges and solutions in determining whether a patient’s treatment has been successful. Such an assessment depends on multiple factors, including the patient’s pretreatment status; the qualifications of personnel performing the treatment; the treating facility’s infrastructure and culture; the use of evidence-based clinical processes; the baseline incidence of treatment complications; and, most challenging, the ability to measure the outcomes that matter to patients. Recent advances in IT and the development of validated measurement instruments now enable consistent collection and analysis of metrics that capture all the relevant dimensions of a patient’s treatment. These data can be mobilized for learning that improves clinical and administrative processes, optimization of care pathways, shared decision-making, accountability, and payment contracting. Providers can now have access to the tools and technology that allow them to be transparent about and accountable for the outcomes that their patients experience.


Robert S. Kaplan is a paid advisor and has equity holdings in Avant-garde Health. Andrea Pusic is a codeveloper of the BREAST-Q and may receive royalties when it is used in for-profit, industry-sponsored clinical trials. Lara Jehi, Clifford Y. Ko, and Mary Witkowski have nothing to disclose.

Information & Authors


Published In

NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery


Published online: January 20, 2021
Published in issue: January 20, 2021




Robert S. Kaplan, PhD, MS
Senior Fellow and Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus, Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Lara Jehi, MD, MHCDS
Chief Research Information Officer, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Associate Professor of Neurology, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Clifford Y. Ko, MD, MS, MSHS, FACS, FASCRS
Director, Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care, American College of Surgeons, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Robert and Kelly Day Professor of Surgery, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA
Andrea Pusic, MD, MHS, FACS, FRCSC
Chief, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Director of Patient-Reported Outcomes, Value, and Experience (PROVE) Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Joseph E. Murray Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Mary Witkowski, MD, MBA
Fellow, Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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  1. Building a Value-Based Care Infrastructure in Europe: The Health Outcomes Observatory, Catalyst non-issue content, 2, 3, (2021)./doi/10.1056/CAT.21.0146

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