Practical Guidance for Selecting Key Performance Indicators in Healthcare

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Key Performance Indicators in healthcare as defined by HIQA (2012) are specific and measurable elements of practice that can be used to assess quality and safety of care. A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) differs from an audit as the KPI is an indicator of areas that require further follow up and investigation, where an audit is an assessment of performance against a set of standards or criteria in a health or social care service.

In this blog, we look at the purpose of healthcare KPIs and offer guidance on selecting what KPIs to monitor for your service and suggest what parameters should be considered for monitoring the data.

What is the purpose of Key Performance Indicators in Healthcare

The purpose of healthcare KPIs include:

Practical Suggestions for Selecting Healthcare KPIs

When selecting healthcare KPIs, HIQA (2013) suggest considering the following when choosing areas to measure:

Below are some further practical considerations for setting KPIs:

Examples of KPIs

Setting the Parameters for each KPI

When developing healthcare KPIs, it is important to ensure they are clearly defined, and have all relative parameters, including but not limited to:

Presentation and Analysis of Healthcare KPI data

KPI data must be displayed in a graph so that you can view the trend over time. When preparing the graph, it is important to include the time period and the numerical / percentage measure. See example below.

When analysing and interrogating the data, ensure this is completed by the relevant individuals or groups on a regular basis. Ensure sufficient time is allocated and that consideration is given to the changes in the data, the trends in data and any unusual results.

Actions identified from the analysis should be managed as per the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) process. Audit may be reviewed to determine the root cause of the results.

How can HCI help?

At HCI, we help providers of health and social care make intelligence driven decisions to attain, manage and improve quality, safety and regulatory compliance. We work with clients to help them define the appropriate Key Performance Indicators that will support them in measuring the success of their service and provide relevant data to demonstrate regulatory compliance or support the achievement of JCI accreditation or CHKS accreditation. We can also analyse and trend the KPI data on a monthly or quarterly basis and provide an independent and objective opinion as to where improvements need to be made. This will save you time in analysing your data and developing action plans.

Click here to find out more about our Quality and Safety Data Analysis Service.

For more information contact HCI at 01 629 2559 or


HIQA (2012). National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare, 2012.  Dublin: Health Information and Quality Authority.

HIQA (2013). Guidance on Developing Key Performance Indicators and Minimum Data Sets to Monitor Healthcare Quality, 2013.  Dublin: Health Information and Quality Authority.

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