Implementing a process without a performance metric is like not implementing a process at all.

Often, systems and technologies are put in place with either no clearly defined performance metric, or poorly defined metrics which are not clear.  Let’s drill on down with the example of a barcode medication administration (BCMA) system.

Our first rule of thumb is that metrics must be clear.  In BCMA Systems scan rates are a valuable tool.  The patient scan rate – whether or not the patient armband barcode was scanned in a medication pass – has a clear and simple outcome, yes or no.  The medication scan rate – whether or not the medication barcode was scanned in a medication pass –  is also a clear yes or no metric.

Our second rule of thumb is that metrics must be measurable.  Tools for measurement include in-situ observation, self-reporting, and electronic measurement.   Each methodology has its advantages and disadvantages.  In the case of BCMA, however, the system should capture transaction level detail.  This is most accurately and least intrusively done with electronic measurement.

Our final rule of thumb is that metrics must be analyzed and reported over time.  Truly looking at scanning performance over time can clearly pinpoint issues with technology, processes, medication “scan-ability”, personnel, and environmental influences that may be hindering the patient safety technology’s effectiveness.

When implementing BCMA or any process improvement plan, consider your metrics and their analysis in advance.

PatientSafeRx has Analytics Tools that can help.

Charles J. Still, MBA

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