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Getting Performance Metrics Right: A Qualitative Study of Staff Experiences Implementing and Measuring Practice Transformation
Journal of General Internal Medicine
  • Devan Kansagara, Veterans Health Administration
  • Anaïs Tuepker, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Sandy Joos, Veterans Health Administration
  • Christina Nicolaidis, Portland State University
  • Eleni Skaperdas, Veterans Health Administration
  • David H. Hickam, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Insitute
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BACKGROUND: Quality improvement is a central goal of the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model, and requires the use of relevant performance measures that can effectively guide comprehensive care improvements. Existing literature suggests performance measurement can lead to improvements in care quality, but may also promote practices that are detrimental to patient care. Staff perceptions of performance metric implementation have not been well-researched in medical home settings.

OBJECTIVE: To describe primary care staff (clinicians and other staff) experiences with the use of performance metrics during the implementation of the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model of care.

DESIGN: Observational qualitative study; data collection using role-stratified focus groups and semi-structured interviews.

PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred and forty-one of 337 (72 %) identified primary care clinic staff in PACT team and clinic administrative/other roles, from 15 VHA clinics in Oregon and Washington.

APPROACH: Data coded and analyzed using conventional content analysis techniques.

KEY RESULTS: Primary care staff perceived that performance metrics: 1) led to delivery changes that were not always aligned with PACT principles, 2) did not accurately reflect patient-priorities, 3) represented an opportunity cost, 4) were imposed with little communication or transparency, and 5) were not well-adapted to team-based care.

CONCLUSIONS: Primary care staff perceived responding to performance metrics as time-consuming and not consistently aligned with PACT principles of care. The gaps between the theory and reality of performance metric implementation highlighted by PACT team members are important to consider as the medical home model is more widely implemented.


To the best of our knowledge, one or more authors of this paper were federal employees when contributing to this work. This is the publisher’s final pdf.

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Kansagara, D., Tuepker, A., Joos, S., Nicolaidis, C., Skaperdas, E., & Hickam, D. (2014). Getting performance metrics right: a qualitative study of staff experiences implementing and measuring practice transformation. Journal of general internal medicine, 29(2), 607-613.