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What are quality measures in healthcare?

Last updated

25 November 2023


Claire Bonneau

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High-quality patient care is the top priority for any healthcare provider and organization. But is your clinic or healthcare office doing enough to measure and track the impact of your existing processes and outcomes?

This guide to quality measures in healthcare will help you set clear patient care goals and make measurable improvements to the way you provide medical services.

What are quality measures in healthcare?

Quality measures are a specific tool healthcare professionals and organizations use to assess and track data about care outcomes, patient experience, and the efficiency of existing systems and structures. Essentially, they are metrics that are measured regularly to ensure healthcare organizations provide the best possible care to every patient they treat.

By creating and monitoring quality measures, your healthcare organization can access measurable data that demonstrates your progress toward meeting care quality goals. This includes your system’s ability to

  • Provide safe and effective care

  • Offer patient-centered care services

  • Ensure equitable distribution of resources

  • Give timely and efficient care to patients in need

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Why quality measures matter

As a healthcare professional, taking the necessary steps to provide high-quality medical services and an exceptional experience is essential. It helps you build a trusting patient relationship and produce the best possible outcomes.

Your reputation as a healthcare provider or organization matters. You need to regularly assess your systems and processes to guarantee the best possible care for your existing and future patients.

By choosing to invest in regular quality measure monitoring, your organization can enjoy a wide variety of benefits.

Identifying weaknesses in your current operations

Depending on the size of your healthcare organization, there are plenty of moving pieces that lead to errors or poor patient experiences. Creating and monitoring quality measures allows your team to better identify weaknesses in your existing systems and processes, which helps improve each step of the patient journey.

Prioritizing growth opportunities

As healthcare technologies continue to expand, your organization must be willing and able to adapt and grow. By collecting regular data about your baseline practices, your team gains insight into areas that can be prioritized for growth and improvement. This helps your organization stay on the cutting edge of patient care and medicine.

Aligning your team members to a common goal

When a team has a clear set of goals (or, in this case, quality measures they know are being assessed), it helps unify everyone’s purpose. Use clear and direct quality measures to inspire your team to do their best work, track their progress, and provide optimal patient care.

Improving patient care

Regularly assessing and collecting data about set quality measures is one of the clearest ways to invest in patient experience and quality medical care. Each of your patients deserves great care every time they step into your facility, so be sure to use quality measures to stay on track with high standards of care.

Key features of effective quality measures

When it’s time for your team to create new quality measures, there are a few key features that need to be included for a clear goal and outcome:


As the first thing a person sees when researching quality measures, the title of each submission should be clear, concise, and accurate. Aim to describe the quality measure metric in just a few words for quick and easy accessibility.


Each quality measure requires a brief but specific description to explain what is being measured as part of the goal. This section should include how the data will be presented (as a percentage, ratio, or number, for example) and should also specify the participants and time frame for the measurement.

Measurable feature

Every quality measure needs to clearly express the type of measurement and data it intends to collect. This data can be presented as a numerator and denominator, a series of readings, or an average, depending on each measurement’s content.


Finally, each quality measure needs a brief rationale to explain the purpose and benefits of conducting this measurement. Whenever possible, this section should highlight best practices and the benefits to the healthcare organization or patients this measurement provides.

When finished, anyone (on your team or not) should be able to read each quality measure and fully understand what the collected data will look like and represent.

Examples of quality measures in healthcare

If your healthcare clinic or organization is looking to develop new quality measures or improve existing ones, you first need to know about the different types of quality measures you can create:

Structural measures

Structural measures are used to collect data about the efficacy of existing systems and processes. These types of measures aim to evaluate the level of care the organization is currently providing its patients and find areas where you can improve.

Here are some examples of structural quality measures:

  • The number of patient falls during a set period of time

  • The staff-to-patient ratio

  • The number of no-show appointments

  • The average amount of time patients spend in the waiting room per visit

  • The number of specialized healthcare providers per organization

Process measures

Process measures are designed to measure what a healthcare provider or system does to maintain or improve their patient’s health condition. These measures help inform patients about the type of care they will receive at the facility. The data can be used for public reporting.

Below are three examples of process quality measures:

  • The percentage of patients receiving social services support

  • The percentage of patients who elect to receive childhood vaccinations

  • The percentage of patients who schedule follow-up appointments

Outcome measures

Outcome measures collect data specifically about the results and impact of medical care your organization provides. In most cases, these types of measures are used as “gold standard” measurements (meaning they are the aspired goal). This is because patient care often contains many factors the organization or provider can’t control.

Here are examples of outcome quality measures:

  • Surgical mortality rates for a particular type of surgery

  • The number of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs)

  • The rate of surgical complications

  • The number of patients who require long-term medical care post-procedure

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Improve your level of patient care and offer a more positive patient experience with every visit by conducting quality measure research powered by insights from Dovetail.

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