Measuring up with ICHOM

7343762168_d58fe252e2_oAsan Akpan is a community geriatrician in Merseyside and research fellow for the Older Persons Working Group at the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement. In this blog, he introduces ICHOM’s work and calls for your involvement. 

There’s a growing consensus around how to provide optimal care for people with multiple conditions: this involves comprehensive, continuous care and oversight. Structures and processes should focus on the person receiving care, allowing them to determine their own preferred outcomes.

Anywhere you look, a common theme is variation in care outcomes within and between healthcare organisations. Traditionally, outcome measures tend to be designed for episodic care, are focused on processes rather than people, and usually aren’t standardised. When different parts of the same healthcare organisation (or different organisations) want to compare their performance, interpretation of the outcomes is unreliable. This often impedes the important work of improving care across departments and organisations.

The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) is a non-profit organisation founded by the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School, the Boston Consulting Group and the Karolinska Institute in 2012 to address these challenges. The ICHOM goal is to change the way health care systems measure and report health outcomes.

Outcomes are what people care about most, including functional improvement and the ability to live normal, productive lives. ICHOM believes that value in healthcare is determined by the balance between the outcome desired for a particular condition over a whole care cycle, and the total costs (including side effects and complications) required to achieve that outcome.

ICHOM organises global teams of physician leaders, outcomes researchers and patient advocates to define standard sets of outcomes per medical condition, and then drives adoption to enable health care providers globally to compare, learn, and improve.

By using outcomes as the yardstick for care providers to compare themselves, ICHOM believes this approach has a much better chance of reducing healthcare costs, improving patients’ experience of care and improving quality.

Standard sets of outcome measures have been developed for 12 conditions since ICHOM was established in 2012. There are several measures being developed and by 2017 the target is to have covered 50% of conditions in high income countries.

One of these conditions for which outcome measures is being developed is in older people: ICHOM launched a working group for older people on 17 July 2015, with the support of NHS England.

The working group consists of a range of experts in the care of older people from across the world (including the UK) and older people themselves. The work of the group is coordinated by a project team, consisting of the ICHOM project lead, ICHOM Europe Director, a chair and a research fellow.

The project group, and the working group of expert panel members, will gather the available background evidence including literature reviews; however, viewpoints from those who care for older people will also be invaluable. The ICHOM project group welcomes comments, suggestions and questions to make the final recommended measures as robust as possible.

Contributions can be emailed to Charlotte Roberts, ICHOM project leader for the older persons working group, at

Image credit: Bradhoc via flickr

1 thought on “Measuring up with ICHOM

  1. it seems to me that any person with multiple major medical conditions should have an assessment and care plan. The assessment should include person centered values and psychosocial factors which frequently dominate the overall health of a person more so than disease specific approaches.

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