Maximizing Impact through Better Metrics: Five Approaches from the Healthcare Sector

May 27, 2016
  • Cecile Oger portrait

    Cecile Oger

    Managing Director, People and Culture, BSR

  • Dorje Mundle

    Former Director, Healthcare, BSR

Good metrics have a fundamental role in driving performance management and in better measuring and communicating impact.

But when it comes to measurement, companies across sectors often use a long list of performance metrics that vary considerably from one program to another, limiting the potential to compare and aggregate impacts at an enterprise-wide level, or even across different companies. There is also a growing desire among companies across sectors, including healthcare, food, and finance, to go beyond expenditure and activity reporting to measure the outcomes of their programs.

In 2015, BSR’s Healthcare Working Group, a group of 15 global healthcare companies that developed the Guiding Principles on Access to Healthcare, embarked on an ambitious project to develop a core set of access-to-healthcare metrics that would create a basis for improved quality and comparability, as well as for a focus on outcomes, compared to current industry practice. Today, we are releasing a working paper, “Advancing Access-to-Healthcare Metrics” to help pharmaceutical and medical device companies improve their performance measurement and reporting on access to healthcare.

The aim of this core set of standard metrics (19 input and output metrics and nine outcome metrics), which can be used across multiple programs, is to provide management information that can improve program performance management and impact, resource allocation between programs, cost effectiveness, communications, and reporting.

While this work was conducted by and for pharmaceutical companies, the resulting working paper provides approaches that are useful beyond the healthcare sector. The working paper:

  1. Underlines the importance of going beyond traditional input and output metrics to invest in defining and applying outcome metrics linked to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts and business value creation.
  2. Outlines a multistakeholder approach, which other sectors can replicate, to develop a core set of metrics that helps companies consistently and comparably measure and report on activities and initiatives. By doing so, the paper demonstrates that it is indeed possible to consolidate and rationalize metrics into a core set.
  3. Provides qualitative guidance on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methodology, including recommendations for companies to use theories of change as a standard practice to improve both M&E and program impact.
  4. Highlights the opportunities for companies to measure impact in a leaner, more resource-efficient manner by using new technologies—especially low-cost methodologies, platforms, and tools—to expand the adoption of outcome metrics, which are often resource-intensive to implement.
  5. Reinforces the importance of accompanying improved metrics with improved narrative in company reporting to ensure that the target audience is appropriately informed and engaged.

In addition, this research underpins the notion that there is much more to metrics than communication and reporting, and that robust metrics will drive better performance commercially and on ESG topics. Good metrics quantify impact and performance, can secure senior management support, and help investors and other stakeholder groups understand how sustainability initiatives support company strategy while maximizing social impact.

BSR and our Healthcare Working Group member companies aim for the proposed approach to contribute to expanded access to healthcare. We also hope it will resonate with and motivate companies beyond the healthcare sector to focus more strategically on metrics.

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