Widespread application of a limited set of standardized measures could reduce the burden of unnecessary measurement of health and health care, and align the incentives and actions of several organizations at multiple levels, according to a report recently released by the Institute of Medicine. The report, “Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress,” “lays the groundwork for the adoption of 15 core measures that, if systematically applied, could yield better health at lower cost for all Americans,” according to a report brief.

A committee convened by the IOM with support from the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California HealthCare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the number of measures in use today limits “their overall effectiveness in improving performance of the health system.”

Instead, the committee proposed 15 core measures based on each measure’s importance for health, likelihood to contribute to progress, understandability, technical integrity, potential to have broader system impact and utility at multiple levels. The committee also considered how the measures would operate together as a set.

Furthermore, the committee developed 10 recommendations geared toward various levels of the health care system with specific actions for them to adopt and implement the core measures.

The committee says that leadership will be required at nearly every level of the health system, including CEOs of health organizations, payers and employers, standards organizations and public health agencies — Health & Human Services in particular — in the uptake, use and maintenance of the core measures as practical tools. www.iom.edu/vitalsigns


Core measure set

  1. Life expectancy
  2. Well-being
  3. Being overweight and obesity
  4. Addictive behavior
  5. Unintended pregnancy
  6. Healthy communities
  7. Preventive services
  8. Care access
  9. Patient safety
  10. Evidence-based care
  11. Care match with patient goals
  12. Personal spending burden
  13. Population spending burden
  14. Individual engagement
  15. Community engagement

Source: "Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progess," Institute of Medicine, 2015