Good information is essential to the delivery of good health services. Performance measures or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are one mechanism of measuring quality. Such measures enable the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) to assess services, to make comparisons between centres and identify areas for improvement as well as sharing good practice. KPIs are an important component of the NCCP monitoring programme. They assist health service providers to deliver a better service to their patients. By tracking the patient care pathway, they can help to identify where the care pathway is strong and where it may need particular attention.
KPIs are often described as the percentage of patients who received care in a particular way or within a particular timeframe. As is common practice with quality improvement initiatives, targets are set for the healthcare providers. An example would be that “95% of patients with primary operable breast cancer will have both a mammogram and an ultrasound examination before their operation”. Targets should be challenging but achievable. Meeting targets is important but identifying and tackling potential system problems early is even more important. In isolation, KPIs cannot prove that a service is high quality. However, properly interpreted, they assist with early detection of problems and provide evidence of a responsive service when measures are seen to improve.
KPIs are regularly reviewed to ensure that they still provide useful information. New KPIs are only added if their benefits clearly outweigh any data collection challenges and costs.