Global Health Care Leaders Take First Steps to Establish International Standards to Track and Improve Patient Outcomes

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ICHOM attendees gather to reform health care from the inside out.

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Health care leaders from fifteen countries and five continents gathered in Boston yesterday to inaugurate a nonprofit organization founded on a simple premise: that the universal development and reporting of patient outcomes is the single greatest priority in making high-quality health care economically sustainable.

The group began forging consensus on a set of important outcomes measures in four high-impact medical conditions— diabetes, coronary artery disease, hip and knee arthroplasty, and cataracts — during the first annual meeting of the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM). The work, one of ICHOM's first steps as an organization, reflects the overriding belief that adopting universal outcomes measurement by medical condition will be an important part of transforming the challenges of health care systems around the world.

Consortium attendees included providers, payers, policymakers, researchers and representatives from patient groups and industry. More than 80 people braved travel delays caused by Hurricane Sandy to attend the meeting in person, signaling just how important the consortium's work is to the future of health care. An additional 10 participated by phone from India, Denmark, Sweden, and the U.S. due to travel delays following the storm.

"Health care leaders are increasingly motivated to participate in ICHOM because the work we have undertaken will change the face of health care," said Stefan Larsson, MD, PhD, a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a co-founder of ICHOM. "Historically, we've talked about reducing the cost of treatment and improving access, but what really matters is addressing the 15-fold difference among countries that have the best outcomes and those with the worst for certain diseases. This is where real health care transformation lies."

Attendees spent the morning learning more about the goals of ICHOM and how the organization plans to achieve them. They also heard directly from payers and providers on how outcomes are being used to track and improve care at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts in the U.S., Aravind Eye Care System in India, and Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center in Taiwan, among others.

In the afternoon, participants split into condition-based or functional working groups to identify the priority measures, processes, and key success factors required to promote outcomes measurment. All of the working groups established 12-month goals and committed to reconvene throughout the year.

"Now is the time," said Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, a co-founder of ICHOM, and a co-author of the book Redefining Health Care. "Five years ago was too early. We were still debating. Now, we have the technology and infrastructure to make outcomes measurement successful. The payer environment is shifting. Economically, the pressure is there to make this happen. Providers and patients are ready. The challenge at this point is getting this right."

The organization launches at a time when rising health care spending and sub-optimal quality is threatening the stability of health care systems around the world. To date, most reforms have focused on limiting or shifting costs, while giving short shrift to the need to measure outcomes in order to ensure better health for patients.

"Approaching this from a purely economic model does not work," said Martin Ingvar, MD, PhD, dean of research at the Karolinska Institutet and ICHOM co-founder. "Patient needs aren't reflected in what's economical. We must measure and start to improve the quality of care delivered. Only then can we address the cost of care in an effective and meaningful way."

ICHOM will spend the next year further developing the working groups, engaging the broader health care community in its research efforts, and deepening the existing outcomes repository – the first publicly searchable, international database of health outcomes measures, which draws from 55 leading registries and provider organizations around the world.

"With the conditions chosen, we currently address about 40 percent of the burden of disease through our repository," said Jens Deerberg-Wittram, ICHOM President." This is a significant starting point that we can use to bring together our network of leading practitioners. There is still a lot of work to do, but we have already received commitments from every segment of health care to help move this forward. I can't wait for the day when I can say we have 80-percent of the main diseases covered by registries that have allowed us to improve health care for everyone around the world."


The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) is a nonprofit organization united by the vision of developing global standards for outcomes measurement in health care. Founded by three renowned organizations and individuals, ICHOM is helping to guide the implementation of value-based health care (VBHC) around the world. Value, as outlined by VBHC, is maximized by identifying, codifying, and promoting treatments that are proven to yield better results at the same or lower cost. To learn more, visit

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Julie Johnson
Bliss Integrated Communication
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