– Performance indicators may provide an indication of insufficient quality of medical care but they do not identify the cause of the problem. The political context for performance indicators is based on market ideology, where quality improvement is the goal and consumer pressure is the means. It is usually difficult to compare performance indicators among hospitals given the differences in definitions, methods of assessment, case mix, preclinical factors and data quality. Performance indicators are risk assessments and therefore subject to chance variation. Conclusions regarding performance indicators cannot be drawn due to the lack of clear, predefined benchmarks. At this time, the presence and degree of consumer pressure is unclear, and the ultimate effects of making performance factors publicly available on the quality of care is unknown. The question is whether mandatory reporting of a set of performance indicators by hospitals can provide sufficient insight into the quality of care; the measure appears to be too rough and too many factors influence the outcome. Procedure assessment is a good alternative to the use of performance indicators.
Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2005;149:2715-9