Beyond health outcomes: the advantages of measuring process

J Eval Clin Pract. 1998 Feb;4(1):31-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2753.1998.t01-1-00003.x.


The use of process measures in the assessment of the quality of care has been neglected of late. The outcomes movement has gathered momentum and process measurement appears to have been left trailing in the wake. Yet process measures can be sensitive indicators of the quality of care and have many advantages over outcomes. They are readily measured and can easily be interpreted; comparisons are not essential (as they are with outcomes monitoring) but even if used they are little bothered by the case-mix arguments which bedevil outcomes assessment. Further, the direct measurement of process can directly indicate deficiencies of care which need to be remedied. Finally, there are some aspects of care which are only amenable to study using measures of process. These benefits come at a price: first there must be good evidence that links the processes of care to desirable outcomes. This paper explores the advantages of measuring processes of care in quality assessment and advocates a balanced approach to the process vs. outcome debate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cost Control
  • Humans
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / standards*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / economics
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • State Medicine / economics
  • State Medicine / standards*
  • United Kingdom