The latest phase of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Outcome Project challenges graduate medical education (GME) programs to select meaningful clinical quality indicators by which to measure trainee performance and progress, as well as to assess and improve educational effectiveness of programs. The authors describe efforts to measure educational quality, incorporating measurable patient-care outcomes to guide improvement.
University of Florida College of Medicine–Jacksonville education leaders developed a tiered framework for selecting clinical indicators whose outcomes would illustrate integration of the ACGME competencies and their assessment with learning and clinical care. In order of preference, indicators selected should align with a specialty’s (1) national benchmarked consensus standards, (2) national specialty society standards, (3) standards of local, institutional, or regional quality initiatives, or (4) top-priority diagnostic and/or therapeutic categories for the specialty, based on areas of high frequency, impact, or cost.
All programs successfully applied the tiered process to clinical indicator selection and then identified data sources to track clinical outcomes. Using clinical outcomes in resident evaluation assesses the resident’s performance as reflective of his or her participation in the health care delivery team. Programmatic improvements are driven by clinical outcomes that are shown to be below benchmark across the residents.
Selecting appropriate clinical indicators—representative of quality of care and of graduate medical education—is the first step toward tracking educational outcomes using clinical data as the basis for evaluation and improvement. This effort is an important aspect of orienting trainees to using data for monitoring and improving care processes and outcomes throughout their careers.