What Gets Measured Gets Fixed

Oct 28, 2013

That’s one of our key aphorisms here at the Metrics Champion Consortium (MCC).  We passionately believe that measurement can effect change, and we’ve spent the last eight years working with our members to define the best metrics for tracking performance and improvement in the industry.

Starting next month, we’ll work through some of the 100 metrics that we’ve developed and tell you why they’re important and how you can use them to measure and improve your organization’s performance.  We’ll discuss clinical operations, central laboratory, cardiopulmonary, imaging core lab and site metrics.  We’ll look at performance metrics, risk metrics, and measurement tools.  We’ll discuss typical timeliness and cycle time metrics, but we’ll also discuss quality metrics and efficiency/cost metrics. 

Why do you need to measure all four types?  Isn’t measuring timeliness and cycle time enough?  On the surface, timeliness and cycle time would seem sufficient.  But it all goes back to that adage at the top of this blog. 

  • If you just measure on-time performance, your staff will meet their timeliness goals, but perhaps not in the way you hope:  they may insist on putting longer cycle times in the plan or simply start earlier, which doesn’t help at all.  Remember when the FAA started measuring airline on-time arrival performance in the US?  The airlines simply increased their planned flight times to ensure they met their targets. 
  • So you may want to measure both timeliness and cycle time:  do it on time and do it fast.  Your organization will meet both of those goals, but they’ll probably demand a lot more staff to do so.  Fast but inefficient.  Still not what you’d hoped for. 
  • So you can measure timeliness, cycle time and efficiency; that should do it, right?  Probably not: your organization will meet all three but probably turn out poor quality and they’ll have to redo things later.  Think about all the amendments that are implemented after achieving that on-time-first-subject-in goal because there wasn’t time to get the protocol right and still meet that on-time-first-subject-in goal.

So keep an eye on this space as we discuss the best metrics to use to measure and improve clinical trial performance.  And by the way, we’re always improving our metrics set, so please write us with your ideas.

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