A new way of keeping an eye on the quality and safety of our health and disability system

30 Jul 2012 | Health Quality Intelligence

In a new report, the Health Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) presents the first set of health quality and safety indicators and seeks feedback from interested parties on its approach to indicator development and on the overall set. The goal of reporting against a set of quality and safety indicators is to provide robust information to support achievement and measure progress against delivery of the outcomes articulated in the New Zealand Triple Aim framework, namely:

  • improved quality, safety and experience of care
  • improved health and equity for all populations
  • best value from public health system resources.

In developing these indicators the Commission has built upon existing quality and safety initiatives throughout the sector and involved measurement experts and stakeholders in the process of selection and definition.

The Commission has also sought to select indicators across a wide range of dimensions of health care delivery and consumer experience of health care. For example, one indicator relates to the percentage of elective surgeries that are cancelled after a patient is admitted into hospital. This measure provides insight into how close a health system is running to capacity and has also been shown overseas to be an important measure of patient experience.

Another indicator measures the percentage of women aged between 20 and 69 years and who are enrolled with a cervical screening programme who are up-to-date with their screening. Early detection and treatment of cervical cancer and other abnormalities lowers the rate of premature death for women.  This measure can also be viewed as an indicator of access to primary health care services.

Two further examples include health care cost per capita (US$ Purchasing Power Parity per capita) and health care expenditure as a proportion of GDP which are different and complementary ways of considering what New Zealand is spending on its health care.  While Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) US$ provides an indication of how much is spent on healthcare per person, the proportion of GDP spent on health care is a relative measure which shows how much of a country’s income goes to fund health services.  Combined, the two allow us to consider both the cost and the relative affordability of a country’s health system, and, when combined with quality measures, provides a starting point for considering the efficiency of the system.

This report presents the work towards developing 17 proposed indicators, displays findings where available and welcomes feedback on how the indicator set could be further strengthened.

The document may be downloaded and feedback can be provided via an online questionnaire on the Health Quality & Safety Indicators page on the Commission's website. In order to be included in the initial analysis feedback should be submitted before 14 September 2012.

Further detail on the definition and calculation of each of the indicators is provided in the definition standards found on the HQMNZ website: http://www.patientsfirst.org.nz/hqmnz (available from early August).

Finalising a set of credible, robust and reliable quality and safety indicators will help New Zealand:

  • provide the public and the health and disability sector with a clear picture of the quality and safety of health and disability services in New Zealand, including changes over time
  • inform the quality improvement activities of service providers by providing information to support learning and peer review in clinical settings
  • identify key quality and safety issues and prioritise improvements to the quality and safety of health and disability support services.

Last updated 04/02/2013