Measurement for Improvement

“In God we trust; all others must bring data”

N. Edwards Deming


The only way to know if a change is an improvement is to measure it. If we don’t measure it, we won’t we know if the intervention is having any impact – good or bad. But working out what and how to measure can be tricky.

Fortunately there are some good resources available to get us started. Here are my top picks:

7 Steps to Measurement

If, like many of us, you don’t have a lot of time to understand the process of measurement, and do have 10 minutes to spare – check out this really engaging and helpful video by Mike Davidge. This is an engaging and helpful ‘short’ that will help you think about the way that you can find out if your improvement efforts are paying off.



“How to become an improvement measure expert in 60 minutes”

If you have a little more time (60 minutes to be precise!) and want a more rounded introduction to measurement, this interactive guide offers a whistle-stop tour through the fundamentals of measurement. It is a really good introduction to the basics and, I think, will prove popular with those of you who think measurement for improvement might be a bit too difficult – be prepared to be pleasantly surprised!

Key Performance Indicators – just part of the story!

If you’re ‘up to your neck’ or just slightly disenchanted with Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) this rather old paper is still a refreshing read. In it Solberg and his colleagues explore the measurement of performance by looking at it through three different lens: improvement, accountability and research. The first take home point is that all three are useful and tell us information about something that matters – so no ditching KPI’s! The second is that if you want to know in ‘real time’ – as opposed to next year- if a change made to your service has delivered an improvement for patients, staff and/or your organisation, you will want to know about measurement for improvement. This kind of measurement allows us to track the impact of small changes and learn what works and what doesn’t work before going large – an idea that really does need to catch on in healthcare!

When language brings us down!

And finally (for now), getting to grips with any new topic can be a challenge – and the words and phrases can be a bit off-putting, and sometimes stop us in our tracks. This handy “A-Z of Measurement” explains all the difficult terminology that you were afraid to ask about such as “meta-data” and “z scores”.

Above all, measurement is the key to understanding which changes work, and which don’t and this will drive and sustain your improvement efforts. My advice – have a go. A pen and paper is all you need to get started!