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Dome - Getting to the Core of Quality and Safety Performance

Dome June/July 2013
Issue No. 646

Getting to the Core of Quality and Safety Performance

Date: July 5, 2013

Matt Austin
Matt Austin

Matt Austin


Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality  


Matt Austin improves patient care by arming health care providers with data about their performance. A former systems engineer for Continental Airlines, Austin used metrics such as flight delays and lost luggage to drive operational improvements. Now the Armstrong Institute instructor develops tools to help hospitals and departments monitor their patient outcomes and compliance with best care practices. He recently explained core measures, established standards for quality hospital care.   


Q. What are core measures?

A. To receive full reimbursement from Medicare, hospitals in the United States are required to report how often their patients receive best practice care, as defined by The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). For example, research shows that sending heart failure patients home with detailed sets of discharge instructions reduces their likelihood of a hospital readmission. 

Q. Why has the number of measures increased in recent years? 

A. Think of it this way: If you’re going to a restaurant, you can go online first and read reviews on Open Table. It’s the same concept for hospitals. The idea behind publishing data online about hospitals’ performance is to help consumers make informed decisions about where to get care. The Joint Commission, the state of Maryland and CMS all share such information on their websites. 

Q. What do employees need to know about core measures?

A. Following these best practices gives our patients the greatest opportunity for a positive outcome. There are also financial implications: Reimbursement for care delivered to Medicare patients is based on how consistently a hospital follows processes of care identified as best practice. 

Q. What is being done to help employees understand our performance on these measures?

A. A Johns Hopkins Medicine quality and safety dashboard will offer a health system-wide look at performance on core measures, hand hygiene compliance, rates of central-line bloodstream infections in our ICUs, and patient experience survey scores. Additional measures will be added to the Web-based dashboard, which will soon be available to all employees.


Additional Resources

Hospital Compare


Quality Check