Intended for healthcare professionals


Measuring what matters to patients

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 20 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j816
  1. Angela Coulter, PhD
  1. Nuffield department of population health, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7LF
  1. angela.coulter{at}

OECD Health ministers commit to patient reported measures of performance

We need to invest in measures that will help us assess whether our health systems deliver what matters most to people.1 So said the health ministers from various Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries at a recent meeting in Paris. Reliance on mortality rates and clinical indicators gives only a partial view of the value of health care, they concluded. What people really care about is its impact on their wellbeing and their ability to play an active role in society, so that’s what we should be measuring. And, of course, the only way to do this is to ask patients themselves.

This groundbreaking ministerial statement endorsed plans for a major programme of work on patient reported indicators of health system performance.2 Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMs) and Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) seem set to become the new currency for comparative performance assessment, but they may have an even more important role in clinical care.

Patient experience surveys elicit feedback on the process of care rather than its …

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