OBJECTIVE: In most countries there is no mandatory national system to track the quality of care delivered to the citizens. This paper describes an example of a national indicator project that aims at documenting and improving the quality of care nationwide.
ANALYSIS: The Danish National Indicator Project was established in 2000 as a nationwide multidisciplinary quality improvement project. From 2000 to 2002, disease-specific clinical indicators and standards were developed for six diseases (stroke, hip fracture, schizophrenia, acute gastrointestinal surgery, heart failure, and lung cancer). Indicators and standards have been implemented in all clinical units and departments in Denmark treating patients with the six diseases, and participation is mandatory. All clinical units and departments receive their results every month. National and regional audit processes are organized to explain the results and to prepare implementation of improvements. All results are published in order to inform the public, and to give patients and relatives the opportunity to make informed choices.
CONCLUSION: The surveillance of health care quality is greatly aided by the use of relevant quantitative indicators. This paper describes how it is possible to organize nationwide monitoring using clinical indicators.