Measuring What Matters Most to Older Adults

Measuring Quality for People with Complex Needs: A New Approach

People with complex health status, particularly older adults with multiple chronic conditions, serious illness or frailty, often get health care that is fragmented, costly, potentially dangerous and, most importantly, care that may not reflect “What Matters” most to them.

Providing care that matters is a central tenet of Essential Attributes of a High-Quality System of Care for Adults with Complex Care Needs and an Age-Friendly Health System.

Existing quality measures do not capture what is most important to individuals, particularly older adults with functional limitations and complex health issues. Appropriate quality of care measures that capture What Matters to people are urgently needed to improve and incentivize care for the large and growing group of people with complex health status.

Person-Driven Outcomes

With support from The John A. Hartford Foundation and The SCAN Foundation, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) joined forces with individuals and families, research experts and care organizations to develop person-driven outcome measures:

  • Assessment of a Person-Driven Outcome
  • Follow-up on a Person-Driven Outcome
  • Achievement of a Person-Driven Outcome

Person-driven outcomes” (or outcomes that matter to the patient) are personalized, structured, measurable goals identified by a person with complex health status or caregiver and can be used for both care planning and quality measurement. NCQA identified two methods of measuring progress toward person-driven outcomes:

  • Goal attainment scaling: Identify a goal and create a qualitative scale of possible quantifiable outcomes for that goal.
  • Person-reported outcome measures: select and use to measure a symptom or domain associated with a goal.

Building on Best Practices in Goal Setting

We’ve built this approach based on our research on best practices to goal setting with older adults and adults with physical disabilities and the work of national experts. We’ve found the best approach to goal setting includes having specific, measurable goals and a system in place to follow-up and revise goals as necessary.

Implementing Person-Driven Outcomes

Between 2016 and 2020, NCQA and thirteen organizations collaborated on testing the person-driven outcome approach. Findings from our research studies suggest that patients, caregivers and providers found value in setting personalized measurable goals in care visits and that the person-driven outcome approach was feasible. These approaches improve the care planning process and provide valuable data on the range of goals that are important to adults and their caregivers.

Below two clinicians who participated in the implementation efforts tell stories about how person-driven outcomes impacted their patients.



What’s Next?

With funding from The John A. Hartford Foundation and The SCAN Foundation, NCQA is continuing this work through continued dissemination and implementation of the person-driven outcome measures to improve care.

This next phase of the work aims to

  • Identify and prioritize pathways to facilitate the use of the measures in value-based payment programs.
  • Implement an outreach campaign, with clear messages for health care plan and delivery system leadership as well as populations who experience significant health disparities and barriers in accessing quality care.
  • Refine tools to support implementation and measure reporting that support clinician training and measure uptake, incorporate messages for diverse populations, and align measures that matter with care that matters.

NCQA will lead this work in collaboration with patient partners and a diverse multi-stakeholder advisory panel.

For more information contact Caroline Blaum at

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