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How many times have you heard or said the words, “If we only had accurate information about that, we could do something about it?” Take some comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Health system administrators, managers and caregivers, not to mention provincial / territorial departments of health and social services, all struggle with this reality every day.
While getting the information or the answer you seek is not easy, it is perhaps one of the most worthwhile endeavours you can undertake to improve your health system, facility or department.
In Part 1 of this blog series regarding accountability in the health sector, I spoke about the three elements that must be present for there to be genuine accountability:
Performance measures can provide you with the elusive ‘accurate information’ that will allow you to make real changes in your system, facility, program or department. And to measure performance, you need good indicators.
Fundamentally, an indicator provides a sign or a signal that something exists or is true. It is used to show the presence or state of a situation or condition. In the context of monitoring and evaluation, an indicator is a quantitative metric that provides information to monitor performance, measure achievement and determine accountability. A quantitative metric can be used to provide data on the quality of an activity, project or program.
A good indicator has several characteristics:
I cannot stress these points enough. Unfortunately, I have seen too many situations where a health facility, program or department embarks on an indicator development initiative and gets very excited about it, but then spends too little time determining the feasibility of collecting the data, or whether in fact the indicator is simply a ‘nice to have’ versus something that will actually provide valuable information about their facility, program or department in order to make improvements or enhancements.
To avoid this pitfall and learn what the essential components of an indicator are, please tune in next month for Part 3 of my Accountability in the Health Sector blog series, where we will explore health indicators in more detail.
Related Topics:Health Care; Business Performance
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