Improving performance using indicators. Recent experiences in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia

Int J Qual Health Care. 2001 Dec;13(6):455-62. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/13.6.455.


This article describes recent national performance improvement initiatives in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. This comparison is of particular interest because each of these three countries faces similar challenges in delivering health care and improving health. Each has elevated a focus on safety and quality improvement to a national level. Marked differences in the organization and financing of health care across these three countries provide a unique opportunity to compare and contrast approaches. Drawing on the experience of the authors in each of the three countries and publicly available data sources about specific national initiatives, we describe the national context for improvement and outline recent performance improvement initiatives and emerging issues and challenges. Similarities and differences in the current evolution of national performance initiatives are described and conclusions are drawn about challenges that all three countries face, particularly in terms of developing meaningful sets of national indicators of health system performance. The challenges for future work include the importance of information infrastructure, the paucity of accurate and accessible clinical data, the need for effective performance measurement processes at a local level to capture useful data, and the tensions of balancing accountability and improvement agendas for measurement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • State Medicine / standards
  • United Kingdom
  • United States