You can’t manage what you don’t measure. — Peter Drucker
Over the past weeks I’ve shared a lot of pragmatic advice on how to measure telehealth performance to assess the success of your telehealth programs.
But underlying that guidance is the assumption that an organization’s leadership is actually interested in measuring success beyond some mere volume metrics.
These days, when we are setting up telehealth performance measurement systems, we start by asking a simple question: Why measure telehealth performance?
Here are some of the answers mixed with my perspective.
To Measure is to Manage
Before we dive into it though, I’d like to focus on Peter Drucker’s famous quote. The ultimate goal of measuring performance is to manage it.
As the dictionary suggests, to manage means “to bring about or succeed in accomplishing, sometimes despite difficulty or hardship”. An organization’s leader’s job therefore is to enable and to ensure success: To set the goals, supply the resources and provide accountability, by measuring the performance.
Without measuring, you are relying on blind faith, like driving in the dark. Only the measurement of key performance indicators provides insights into whether the team is making progress to achieving the goals set forth — whether they are successful.
Side note: Where do the goals come from you may ask? Ideally from your organization’s virtual care or digital health strategy. See some of my past articles on strategy here.
Key Reasons to Measure Performance
Based on the conversations with numerous virtual care steering teams, here are the top reasons for why it is important to measure performance.
- To track progress against goals.
- To benchmark one’s performance.
- To identify areas that need improvement.
- To motivate and reward employees.
- To make informed decisions about strategy and resource allocation.
- To comply with regulations and standards.
- To improve patient, provider, and staff satisfaction.
- To attract and retain top talent.
Overall, measuring performance is essential for any organization that wants to be successful. It provides valuable insights that can be used to improve operations, make better decisions, and focus the team’s efforts on achieving the goals set forth.
In a high-performing organization, measurement is not performed monthly or quarterly and reported in fancy charts or dashboards. Rather metrics can be quantitative or qualitative — as long as they are actionable.
Consider the example of the tiered 15-minute huddle system at the Cleveland Clinic. Every day, critical performance measures are discussed at various levels of the organization and passed up the chain so that many problems can be addressed or even be resolved within 24 hours.
Unlike the controlling or punitive performance measurement systems of the past, providing visibility to problems (especially in the highly committed healthcare profession) to allow for speedy resolution will result in a strong sense of commitment and accountability. It’s when reported metrics are not acted on by management, that a cynical attitude about measurement systems develops.
Managing Change through Performance Measurement
One of the key factors of virtual care success is to approach the optimization, expansion, and growth of virtual care services from the perspective of change management. A key tenet of change management is to provide accountability to prevent sliding back into the old ways of doing things (as tends to be human nature — to fall back, literally, into your rut).
With that in mind, one of the most important metrics to ensure the sustainable acceptance of this new way of delivering care is to measure the satisfaction of providers, staff, and patients.
Change is only sustainable when people are supportive and agreeable with the new processes, the new technology, the new mindset. From this aspect alone it is critical to measure the performance — to ensure that the change is accepted and will stick.
A Management Recipe for Success
The evidence is clear: without clear success goals, without accountability, without feedback on the current performance even the most well-intended teams will not reach their peak performance. As humans we are hardwired to work together to succeed – but we need to know what success looks like and how we are doing.
Thus the recipe for success in virtual care is simple:
- Develop a Virtual Care Strategy that identifies specific objectives and goals.
- Identify metrics to meaningfully measure progress against those goals.
- Measure frequently and provide the resources to improve performance.
And that is the main reason why you should measure virtual care performance.